ISLAMABAD - The PTI government during Wednesday’s National Assembly sitting faced strong criticism, as the opposition staged a strong protest against the planned privatisation of the Pakistan steel Mills (PSM).

The opposition members, raising anti-government slogans, waved placards inscribed with the demand for resignation of federal minister Asad Umar. 

The Federal Cabinet, endorsing the decisions of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), had recently approved the privatisation of Pakistan Steel Mills.

Though some protesting opposition members could not get the floor to raise the concerns but shouted loudly that the incumbent government had backed out of its promises with the employees of PSM.

Ignoring repeated warnings from the chair, PPP-P’s lawmaker Agha Rafi ullah with others in their protest mainly targeted Asad Umar reminding him of his promise with the employees of PSM. “Refrain from violation, wait for your turn to speak, said Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri to the protesting members, who were waiving the placards.

Federal Minister for Communication Murad Saaed, responding to the allegation leveled by opposition, clarified that the previous government had taken the decision to privatise Public Sector Entities (PSEs) including PSM, along with other important organisations.

“Downfall of the Steel Mills started during the decade of 1990 (during the PPP’s tenure) and the deficit increased when the PML-N was in the government,” said the Minister.

He said PTI’s government would make all the efforts to turn PSEs into profitable organisations. “Planning and efforts are being made to reform entities to generate benefit for the people of the country,” he said citing an example that revenue of Pakistan Post has also increased as it increased revenue in only two years.

He said the previous government had short-listed 41 organisations including the PSM and PIA for privatisation.  He claimed that the deficit of PIA had reached the figure of Rs 500 billion and an aircraft from its fleet also went missing.

Earlier, MNA from PPP-P Jam Abdul Kareem asked the government to give a reply about its promise about not privatising PSM.

“Stand with your promise made with the employees of PSM, he said, suggesting that it was the responsibility of the government to keep Steel Mills functional by providing raw material.

MMA STAGE PROTEST OVER SITTING ARRANGMENT

Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) members staged a protest and walked out from the proceedings against the new sitting arrangement for the members participating in the session under coronavirus.

Some members from MMA, in protest, sat before the Speaker’s podium asking the chair to make arrangements as per their choice.

“We are leaving the proceedings in protest. This is just a walkout and if the arrangement was not made we would protest, said JUI-F’s senior member Mualana Asad Mehmood.

LEGISLATION

Adviser on Parliamentary Affairs, Dr. Babar Awan laid before the Lower House (National Assembly) the Tax Laws (Amendment) Ordinance 2020.

The adviser also laid four bills including the Maritime Security Agency (Amendment) Bill, National College of Arts Institute Bill, National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (Amendment) bill and the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (Amendment) bill.