Punjab Assembly’s pre-budget debate marred by Opp’s protest

The opposition members claimed they had evidence of rigging

LAHORE  -   Much like the first sitting of the Punjab Assembly’s 8th session, the second one held on Tuesday was also wasted in the unnecessary debate over the alleged rigging in Sunday’s bye-elections. The Punjab government had convened the session to hold pre-budget debate but the same could not take place even on the second day though the Finance Minister Mujtaba Shuja-ur- Rehman eventually succeeded to initiate it with his opening remarks minutes before adjournment of the House till Wednesday morning. The Opposition in Punjab Assembly continued with its protest against the alleged rigging in the Sunday’s bye-elections on the second consecutive day, leading to exchange of hot words between the Speaker and the opposition members who also staged a walkout over chair’s remarks. The Speaker had advised them to seek legal recourse at the right forum if they had any evidence. The Speaker, however, sent ministers to persuade them, and after negotiations, the opposition returned to the assembly.The opposition members claimed they had evidence of rigging. They protested in the assembly standing up from their seats. The Minister for Finance Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman stated that the opposition was venting its frustration on the government for their incompetence to bring out their voters on the polling day. Earlier, Speaker Malik Muhammad Ahmed was furious at the beginning of the Punjab Assembly session due to Minister of Industry and Commerce Shafique Hussain’s absence and adjourned the session for five minutes. When the session resumed, Shafique Hussain arrived in the assembly. He criticized the opposition stating that agricultural land would not be allocated for industries any more. The minister was referring to alleged allotment of land to politicians during the last tenure of the PTI. Last week, forty plots were canceled, he told the House during the Question Hour. Treasury member Amjad Ali Javed responded questioning how the plots were canceled if the land wasn’t acquired. PML-N member Ahsan Raza protested against farmers not receiving seeds and said that the same percentage of farmers didn’t have access to centers. If farmers are disgruntled, it will affect wheat cultivation next year, he said. Treasury members member Amjad Ali Javed raised the issue of non-confirmation of the two-year degree obtained from the Higher Education Commission and said that this decision has jeopardized the educational future of students. Finance Minister Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman initiated the pre-budget discussion for the upcoming fiscal year’s budget. He mentioned that members would have four days for suggestions, and a form was being distributed among them where they could submit their written suggestions. Once the agenda was complete, the Speaker adjourned the session until Wednesday morning at eleven o’clock. Meanwhile, a Punjab government’s spokesperson said that the Punjab Assembly Tuesday commenced its pre-budget debate for the fiscal year 2024-25, signaling a proactive approach to inclusive economic planning. This four-day session, which began on Monday aims to solicit valuable input from elected representatives to shape the upcoming budget, he said.

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