Sanity prevails as Hamza Shehbaz opens budget debate

| Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi manages to convince leadership from across political divide to allow smooth proceedings

Hamza accuses PTI regime of damaging economy, making life of masses miserable

LAHORE   -  Unlike pandemonium at the National Assembly, sanity prevailed as Opposition Leader Hamza Shehbaz opened budget debate at the Punjab Assembly on Thursday without any major interruption from the treasury benches. 

Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi managed to convince leadership from across the political divide to allow smooth proceedings during meeting of business advisory committee that held before the House proceedings. 

Sanity prevailed as legislators from both sides of the political divide remained calm during one and half hour long speech of Hamza Shehbaz. 

The session started two hours and 10 minutes behind the scheduled time with the PA Speaker in the chair.  Parvez Elahi told the House that the business advisory committee had decided to ensure peaceful environment during the speeches of opposition leader and Chief Minister.  “You all should ignore what happened in the National Assembly the other day. Everyone is now focusing this House and you all should behave patiently,” he said while giving warning of expelling the legislators trying to spoil the environment for the entire session. 

Opening debate, Hamza Shehbaz accused the PTI regime of damaging the economy and making life of the masses miserable.

 “Who used to say that I’ll commit suicide before going to the IMF,” asked Hamza. He said that the government wasted much time in taking any decision regarding the IMF. These rulers made the word ‘loan’ an abuse but one thing is clear that it is not as bad as they used to portray. Loan is not bad if it is used in productive way. First, they were reluctant to get loan from the IMF and then all saw that they imported a Finance Minister from the IMF, he remarked. “We took Rs25,000 billion loan but they borrowed Rs48,000 billion in just three years,” he said. 

Hamza said that health, education, law and order, road infrastructure, agriculture and all major sectors have been ruined due to the flawed policies of the government. The result will be the same when largest province will be run from Islamabad through remote control, he added.

It was the PML-N government, he said, that did not give any subsidy on sugar owing to which his relatives faced loss of Rs.1 billion. The PTI government gave Rs.3 billion subsidy, he said. He said the PML-N laid 8000 kilometre long road infrastructure with cost of Rs.86 billion but the PTI did nothing in this regard. Comparing PTI’s budget with that of PML-N in 2018, he said that the development outlay now was Rs560 billion as against Rs637 billion in 2018. 

“We gave Rs228 billion to South Punjab which is now just Rs179 billion”, he said. He also gave a comparison of prices of basic edible items like sugar, cooking oil, flour and tea during the PML-N and PTI regimes. He urged the chair to make functional the standing committees and constitute the Public Accounts Committee I. “As many as 26 bills were passed without any consideration in the standing committees. History will not forgive us for this”, he said. “We are ready to play role of a responsible opposition for the betterment of the province, he said. Minister for Industries Mian Aslam Iqbal criticized the PML-N on the anniversary of Model Town incident that claimed 14 innocent lives. PML-N senior leaders managed to pacify some hawks who tried to interrupt Aslam Iqbal.

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