The session started 48-minute beyond the fixed time with Deputy Speaker Rana Mashood Ahmad Khan in the chair and by Dr Asad Ashraf in the later part. The speeches made by the members on both sides carried criticism and counter criticism to undermine other. After lengthy speeches replete with diatribe, they left with little time to present suggestions which are cardinal to improve budget in the final run.
The session was overtaken by a highly noisy scene and disorder during the speech of Treasury member Asghar Munda as flying in the face of a strong protest by the Opposition over some nocuous remarks by him and the repeated calls from the chair to take seat he continued his tirade against the past government of Pervaiz Elahi and the federal government.
Munda, did not resume his seat until he was given extra time to vent his chagrin against Zardari and his ‘cronies’ whom he described the epicenter of all problems confronting the country, particularly Punjab at present. He also turned his guns to the previous Punjab government during Musharraf era, and said it crossed every limit to support a dictator and shared sell-out of the country interest at his hand apart from looting Bank of Punjab, creating situation in Balochistan, and killing people in Lal Masjid.
Samina Khawar Hayat leading PML-Q and Sajida Mir and Riffat Sultana Dar, PPP, joined hands to protest against Munda and the Treasury. The Opposition felt so much offended by some remarks from Munda, that PML-Q Parliamentary leader Ch Zaheeruddin recorded his resentment before the Chair.
Some members remained continuously engaged in confabulation while Provincial Minister Ehsanuddin Qureshi sitting with the Finance Minister was seen distributing chewing gums to others. The decorum puts a strict bar on such like activity when the House is in session. The Minister offered a piece of chewing gum even to the Opposition member Shaukat Basra perhaps to maintain a balance among his friends on both sides.
Ch Zaheedud Din in his speech charged the Punjab government for deviating from the targets set in the last year’s budget and resorted to scheme like laptop, yellow cabs etc, which were not envisaged therein. He said Rs9 billion of the energy sector were diverted to other projects whereof the Punjab could not generate power at all and also government failed to keep its commitment of building 200 dams.
He asked the Finance Minister to answer in his winding up speech as to how much was spent on the foreign tours of the CM and how much investment came as a result of that, why the last year’s budgetary targets were not met and how much loans from inside and outside secured, and why the law and order situation remained highly poor in the province, and what projects were initiated to increase source of income of the government as 83 per cent income reliance of the government is on divisible pool of the Federal Government, and 11.48 percent on the loans. He said the CM makes tall claims of breaking the beggar’s bowl but he is set that much percentage of income to be met from foreign loans.
Zaheer apprehended that the money earmarked for laptop, metro bus, youth scheme and others would be used to run the election campaign of the PML-N. He also drew attention of the House to the U-turn taken in the budget on construction of the cardiology centre in Balochistan on the plea of unfavourable situation there and said such a position was harmful for Balochistan where foreign investors will get scared away after statement by Punjab. He urged the chair for expunging this part in the budget speech.
He also cited a World Bank report which counted law and order, corruption, shortage of skilled labour, and political instability coupled with loadshedding major reasons for industrial decline in Punjab. Ch Zaheer asked the chair to seek production of five reports prepared by flood commission of Justice Mansoor Ali Shah on last year inundation of land in Southern Punjab, fake dengue spray, killing by spurious PIC drugs, and Shah Alam market fire.
He also accused the government of not having sense to use the development funds as Rs65billion of the last allocation remained unspent. He said spending Rs10.9billion the government could build only three Danish Schools when hundreds of thousands of children in ordinary schools are crying for basic facilities. He said 33 percent audit of the Sasti Roti scheme has found marked embezzlements and fake tandoor. He suggested for the construction of Kalabagh Dam besides 200 promised ones, activating 360 patrolling posts, setting up of anti-dacoity police and making the elite to pay from their own pocket for their personal security. He suggested for meeting the shortage of staff in BHUs and doubling budget for free medicines to the poor, strict system of taxation on the upper class and holding Local Bodies election. He lamented that no money was allocated for LB polls in the next budget.
Rana Muhammad Afzal of the Treasury appropriately replied to Ch Zaheer allegations in his speech and said Punjab was the major contributory of tax in the federal pool and it was its due right and not bounty if it was getting the share of Rs 650billin after deduction for defence, debt servicing and others. He said Punjab also shared the deficit of the federal government which stands at Rs1100 in the current federal budget.