PPP-PML-N differences more visible as upper house starts debate on budget

PPP complains it was not consulted, taken into confidence over budget-making process

Calls budget as IMF-dictated, rejects policy of privatization of PML-N-led govt.

ISLAMABAD   -   The differences between the PPP and the PML-N, the two key allies of the ruling coalition in the centre, became more visible in the Senate over the Fi¬nance Bill 2024 with the former reiter¬ating its claim that it had neither been consulted nor taken into confidence over the budget-making process. The PPP called the budget as IMF-dictated and rejected the policy of privatization of the PML-N-led gov¬ernment, as proposed in the annual budget for fiscal year 2024-25. Taking part in the budget debate here on Thursday, PPP Sena¬tor Taj Haider recalled that Finance Minister Muhammad Aurang¬zeb presenting the an¬nual budget said that the document had been prepared under the guidance of senior political leadership in¬cluding his party chair¬man Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. “It is wrong to link Bilawal Bhutto with such a document that only repeats failed poli¬cies, having no relation with the ground reality,” he said, rebutting the claim of the minister on behalf of his party. He added that the budget would have a different shape if Bilawal had given his input on it. A day earlier, the PPP had decided to boycott the budget session in the Na¬tional Assembly due to an alleged vio-lation of a power-sharing agreement it had reached with the PML-N after the February 8 election. Later, it agreed to have a token representation following intervention of Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar. Senator Taj went on to say that there had been headlines in the media for the last few days that PPP had not been taken into confidence over the details of the budget. He said that there were some ideological reasons for it that his party was not consulted. He said that an expression of hap¬piness was being given between the lines that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was satisfied with the performance of the federal govern¬ment and the entire system was go¬ing to be restructured. “We have faced losses of such decisions in the past,” he added. He said the budget was neither people-friendly nor pro-poor and only stressed upon the old failed theory of trickle-down economy, which stated that first the rich should become richer and then the poor would get benefit of it. Earlier opening the budget debate, Leader of the Opposition Shibli Faraz, said the PML-N and the PPP had been governing the country since 1971 ex¬cluding the terms of military dictators. He said the PTI and a large major¬ity of people of the country were on one side, while representatives of the elite and those part of the “illegiti¬mate government” were on the other side. “They are least concerned about the sentiments of the people as they have not been given mandate by the people and lack moral strength and legitimacy,” he said. The opposition leader questioned whether there was a single voice heard in the Lok Sabha elections about rigging? He said the budget carried no economic vision to steer the country out of the debt trap. Responding to his speech, the parlia¬mentary leader of PML-N in the house Senator Irfan Siddiqui said the legiti¬mate government for the PTI would be only the one, which would be of PTI while the rest of the governments would be based on poll fraud and rig¬ging. The PML-N senator insisted that the February 8 polls were legitimate and the incumbent government and all the state institutions were functioning, including the parliament. Parliamen¬tary leader of ANP Senator Aimal Wali Khan regretted that due to direct and indirect taxes, life for the common man had been made extremely difficult.

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