ISLAMABAD - The PPP-led opposition parties in the Senate Wednesday rejected prime minister’s incentive-cum-amnesty package for the business community, saying it would promote corruption in the country.

The special package announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last week came under fire while discussing the recent price-hike, especially the prices of petroleum products, gas, electricity and other essential items. The house started debate on adjournment motion moved by PPP parliamentary leader Mian Raza Rabbani and as many as six members took part in the debate.

Raza Rabbani said the government is offering attractive incentives to the privileged and crony capitalists at the expense of the poor whose lives have been made miserable with the increase in the prices of essential commodities. “We reject this money whitening scheme as it is meant for VVIPs while the poor masses have been overburdened with phenomenal hike in the price of essential commodities”, he said.

Senator Rabbani was of the view that present government has done nothing for poor who are becoming poorer with each passing day. He argued that prices of fuel have gone down in the international market but the benefit has not been passed on to the Pakistani people, and so was the case with electricity which has become unaffordable for the poor.

He recalled that when the PPP government introduced an amnesty scheme, Senator Ishaq Dar, the incumbent finance minister, dubbed that package as a financial NRO. He vowed to resist the amnesty scheme that he said was meant to dole out favours to the crony capitalists through the SROs. He added that parliament’s nod was not sought for it because of the fear that Senate would reject it.

Criticising the scheme, ANP senator Haji Adeel said PM’s amnesty scheme is meant to ‘dollorise’ the economy and nothing is being done for the poor masses. He said prices of essential commodities have gone out of reach of common man and asked the government to adopt strict austerity measures to give economic relief to the masses. He warned that if the government failed in giving significant economic relief to the poor, situation could lead to a bloody revolution.

MQM Senator Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi said even though the government is faced with multiple challenges, it should immediately take steps for betterment of the poor whose lives have become miserable. Abbas Khan Afridi from Fata said there is dire need to enhance tax base in order to put the country on the path of sustainable development. He also criticised the PTI for obstructing the Afghan transit trade in the name of blocking Nato supplies, which he believed was a major source of income for Fata people.

Kamil Ali Agha of PML-Q said Pakistan is an agricultural country but regretfully the prices of items of daily use, including vegetables, have seen unprecedented hike in the last six months. Other members who also spoke about price hike included Khalida Parveen‚ Saeed Ghani and Humayun Khan Mandokhel. As the discussion continued Chairman Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari adjourned the House to meet again Thursday to further discuss the issue.

Earlier, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Defence and Defence Production Mushahid Hussain Sayed presented a report on “Cyber Security Manual for Journalists‚ 2013”. While laying the report‚ Mushahid said this manual is an effort on the part of the committee to help the government in evolving cyber security strategy to counter cyber crimes.