Punjab Assembly passes Rs229.83bn supplementary budget with majority

LAHORE - The Punjab Assembly on Wednesday passed supplementary budget to the tune of Rs229.83 billion for the fiscal year 2021-22 with majority.

The approved supplementary grants included Rs 3,211 million for education, Rs 749 million for industries, Rs 4,561 million for public health, Rs 6,918 million for general administration, Rs 1,655 million for civil works, Rs 889 million for development and Rs 13,792 million for Police. Thanking the opposition for playing its democratic role in the discussion and approval of the budget, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar termed the allocation pro-masses, pro-farmers as well as pro-workers and the best in the history.

The session started three hours and 20 minutes behind the scheduled time with Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi in the chair. Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar also joined House proceedings and thanked the members for passing of the budget. Expressing views on cut motion PML-N’s Khalil Tahir Sindhu said that crime rate had increased in the province as per the police report. He questioned the logic of giving such huge amount to the police if it had failed to maintain law and order. PML-N’s Sami Ullah Khan blamed the government of slashing the development budget by Rs295 billion on the direction of International Monetary Fund.  

Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentary leader Syed Hassan Murtaza accused the government of not giving development funds to the opposition legislators. Responding to the colleagues from the Opposition benches, Law Minister Raja Basharat said that Chief Minister was fortunate to have an opposition totally blind to reasoning. “The opposition is so incompetent that its government has not only got sentenced its prime minister but also made him a fugitive,” he said. He expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Minister for giving full freedom to the police.

CM thanks opposition for playing its democratic role in the discussion and approval of the budget

 Refering to Hamza Shehbaz statement that he could not sleep all night due to Sahiwal tragedy, Raja Basharat questioned what was his condition on broad day light murder of 14 innocent persons at walking distance from his home. 

He lamented that even FIR of this gruesome incident was not registered. “We invite the opposition to bring a unanimous resolution to punish the perpetrators of the Model Town tragedy.” The Law Minister further said that for the first time the PTI government had done historic work for the police department. The Chief Minister restored the frozen FDA allowance from 2009 and also approved the administration allowance. He said that the present government provided 500 vehicles to the police stations while the PML-N did not provide a single one. “We are changing the police from a crime centeric force to a public centeric force. Fifty police stations have been provided with modern facilities and its scope will be extended to the whole of Punjab.” The law minister said that the cost of investigation per case had been significantly increased to improve the system. Recruitment for more than 5,000 posts has been approved to address the shortage of personnel at police stations. 

Raja Basharat said that even during the outbreak of Corona pandemic, the police sacrificed their lives for the cause. 

He said that the PML-N even devoured up the package of martyrs of the police which was paid by the Buzdar government. He said that many blind cases including Data Darbar case, motorway case were traced with professionalism. While the accused in a blind case like Johar Town blast were arrested in 16 hours. 

Chief Minister said for the first time budget book for south Punjab was prepared separately and claimed that Punjab was the only federating unit achieving surplus tax revenue.

Seeking to deny the impression that his government was ignoring Lahore, he said a sum of Rs86 billion had been earmarked for the capital city this year other than the allocation made for the Orange Line train. He said 110 million people of the province would benefit from the Health Card scheme as the scheme would cover the whole province by Dec 31.

Talking about other health sector initiatives, he said a 1,000-bed hospital is being established in Lahore, while the Children Hospital is being granted the status of a university. He said his government recruited 32,000 doctors and paramedics to overcome understaffing in the health department during its so far three-year term in power, while the former government had recruited just 18,000 staff in its five-year tenure.

In the education sector, Mr Buzdar said, a number of new universities had been given charters against just seven by the previous government. Likewise, at least 186 state-run colleges were being given associate degree status.

The Chief Minister said that the minimum support price of wheat was increased by Rs500 to Rs1800 per 4 kg while it remained stagnant at Rs1300 in the five years before took over reigns of the province. The farmers were also offered seed and fertilizer subsidy worth Rs4.0 billion.

He said the former rulers initiated mega project like built Orange Line train at a cost of Rs215bn which was consuming Rs8bn per annum subsidy ignoring the weak financial position of the province.

The present government, he said, was building homes for the poor citizens in 146 tehsils and developing 500 sports grounds in the province.

Referring to the police department performance, the Chief Minister said that the police had resolved all high-profile cases, while 13,000 new recruitments were being made in the department to further improve its working. He said that a new initiative, Rescue Heli-Cab, would be introduced soon as funds for the purpose had been released.

About the pro-workers steps, he said minimum wages of workers had been raised to Rs20,000 while Rs30bn had been allocated for Punjab Rozgar (employment) Scheme.

Later, the chair prorouged the session. 



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