LAHORE              -        The Punjab Assembly on Tuesday passed supplementary budget worth Rs107 billion for the Year 2019-20 with majority.

The approved supplementary grants included procurement of grain (Rs65bn), health services (Rs12.88bn), police (Rs13.84bn), relief (Rs8.15 billion), and construction of roads and bridges (Rs6.28bn).

The session started one hour and 55 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. He said for the first time assembly proceedings were being held outside the Punjab Assembly building due to the epidemic.  He said he and his team worked honestly during the pandemic and got tested more than 500,000 suspect cases.He said there is no shortage of medicines for coronavirus and more than 9,000 beds have been added to hospitals for tackling corona patients, an additional allowance has been given to the doctors fighting on the front line against the virus.

He said funds worth Rs2 billion were released for eradication of locust. He announced three months additional salary for the employees of assembly, finance and law departments. Taking part in the discussion on supplementary budget, PML-N’s Tahir Khalil Sindhu opposed extra funds for the police department, saying the force has failed to maintain law and order, particularly in and around Lahore.

Law Minister Raja Basharat said that Mr Sindhu should also mention  killing of 17 innocent people in Model Town in 2014 when the PML-N was in power.  He said those shot dead in Model Town were not animals. Sindhu asked if Sahiwal tragedy also took place during the PML-N regime. “Where are accused of Sahiwal tragedy?” he asked as the chaired barred further discussion on the issue.

PPP’s Syed Hassan Murtaza said that 50 per cent of the population of Punjab voted for the opposition and thus they too should be given development funds.

He wondered that no funds had been allocated even for the constituency of the communication and works minister. Ex-Health Minister Kh Imran Nazir said that the government should have enhanced budget for the department in proportionate with the devaluation of rupee against dollar. He said a sum of Rs910 million  had been set aside for free dialysis facility last year but only Rs210 million were released and God knows how much of the amount was spent on patients.  This year, he pointed out, only Rs670 million have been apportioned for free dialysis.

Referring to opposition of use of pictures of PML-N leaders in the publicity material for various projects when the party was in power, he said now the PTI was using party flag on the health card, and school projects were started in the name of Insaf schools and asked if these projects were being financed by the PTI from its own resources.

On completion of agenda, the chair prorouged the session.