Four bills sail through the assembly


LAHORE   -  The Punjab Assembly on Friday approved 37 supplementary demands amounting to Rs309.8 billion, an expenditure incurred by the previous government in excess of the original budgetary allocations for the fiscal year 2021-22.

Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Mazari chaired the sitting which was also attended by Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz Sharif.

The process of voting on the supplementary demands was completed in less than an hour as the Opposition was not present. During the general debate on the supplementary budget on Thursday last, the treasury members had demanded investigation into the additional spending by the PTI government.

Moreover, the assembly passed four bills besides approving the supplementary budget. The provincial assembly has done away with the privileges of the former chief ministers by amending the Punjab Ministers (salaries, allowances and privileges) Act. The previous government had inserted certain clauses into the Act to allow the ex-chief ministers to keep official staff, security, and residence. Now, all these privileges have been scrapped.

Through amendment in the Provincial Assembly of Punjab Secretariat Service Act, the powers of the speaker and assembly secretary to make recruitments in grade 16 to 19 have been taken back from them and given to the Punjab Public Service Commission. Also, the power of the assembly secretary to issue gazette notification of summoning and prorogation orders of the assembly session have been withdrawn and given to the law secretary.  The assembly has also approved amendments in the provincial assembly of the Punjab Privileges Act to end judicial powers of the assembly speaker. Earlier, through amendments in the said Act by the assembly, Chaudhry Parvez Elahi had got judicial powers to punish the bureaucrats accused of breaching the privilege of the assembly members. These powers have now been taken back from the speaker.

The assembly also approved certain amendments in the Local Government Act. According to the new amendments, the election of Lord Mayor and the Mayer would be indirect. The previous government had made a provision in this law for direct election for the two offices.

Moreover, nine big cities like Lahore, Multan, Gujranwala, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi will have Metropolitan Corporations besides the four cities - Sargodha, Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan and Sahiwal - with divisional headquarters. The previous government had also given Gujrat the status of Metropolitan Corporation on the recommendation of the PML-Q. There would be 14 municipal corporations in the rapidly growing cities. According to the new amendments, the women will also get 33 percent representation in the higher local government offices. Addressing the budget session of the provincial assembly on Friday slammed the PTI government for its mismanagement. Hamza Shahbaz said that those who claim to have paid off the debts and changed the lives of the people had plunged the country into a severe financial crisis and made the lives of poor people miserable.