LAHORE -  Amid sloganeering in intervals from female legislators of the treasury, Opposition leader Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed criticized the government for decreasing allocation for education and not taking measures to minimise the sufferings of growers.

To the indication of the chair that it was a reaction to the opposition attitude during the speech of the finance minister, Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed said there was no precedent of blowing whistles during the assembly proceedings. He refused to continue his speech till order in the house.

The proceedings started one hour beyond scheduled time with Deputy Speaker Sardar Sher Ali Gorchani in the chair.

Opening general discussion on the budget at the Punjab Assembly, Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed said the government has decreased allocation for education by one percent. On sloganeering from the female legislators of the treasury, he asked the chair to keep order in the house so that he could continue his speech. He said the protest was a right of Opposition and not that of treasury. He said Opposition resorts to such practice to get due rights from the treasury. He said there was no precedent of blowing whistles and interrupting speech of the opposition leader. Sardar Sher Ali Gorchani asked the treasury legislators to listen to the speech of the Opposition leader. Female legislators, however, continued disrupting speech of the Opposition leaders in intervals.

Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed said the treasury has set wrong precedents which reflect mindset of the ruling party. He stated the attitude of the treasury has forced the opposition to resort to protest. He lamented, instead of empowering the house committees and paying due attention to their proposals, the chief executive continued giving undue weight to suggestions of the bureaucracy. He said those who raised the slogan of breaking begging bowel have made the province debt-strapped. In 2008, the budget of Punjab was surplus. Now, he said, the province was under debt of Rs 712 billion. He said the government was taking heavy loans and that too without approval from the cabinet and without bringing into the notice of the house. He said Rs 320 million have been allocated for Governor’s House. As such expenses of one day were about Rs 1 million. Similarly, Rs 491.5 million have been allocated for Chief Minister’s House. As such expenses of Khadim-e-Aala were about Rs 2 million per day. He said the government hired the services of private lawyers in Orange Line Metro Train cases in the higher judiciary. He alleged fee amounting to Rs 28 million was paid to one lawyer and Rs 8 million to another. He questioned what the advocate general and additional advocate general were doing when the government was hiring private lawyers in important cases. He further alleged the government has purchased a helicopter worth Rs 1.76 billion and dozens of new vehicles. He said the chief minister donated Rs 25 million to Karachi Press Club whereas Lahore Press Club was getting merely Rs 3 million annually. He suggested provision of facilities of Kissan Credit Card and insurance for crops to growers. He said the government has increased allocations of those departments in the next budget which failed to fully utilise the funds during the ongoing fiscal year.

Qazi Ahmed Saeed, Maulana Ilyas Chinioti, Raja Farooq and Rana Munawar Ghous also took part in the general discussion. On completion of the agenda, the chair adjourned the session till 11am on Tuesday (today).