ISLAMABAD - National Assembly Wednesday witnessed pandemonium during the debate on ‘inflation and economic situation’ as the intense verbal altercation between opposition and government led to adjourn the proceedings.

Though the chair, with the outset of proceedings, asked the lawmakers to avoid point scoring during the serious debate on inflation, yet the advice was ignored. The situation turned messy only after three speeches were delivered, as with the exchange of heated remarks the lawmakers were about to engage in fistfight, thus forcing the chair to adjourn the proceedings.

Minister for Energy Minister Omar Ayub, participating in the debate, opened his tirade against the opposition parties by mentioning the performance of previous governments [PPP-P and PML-N]. About PPP-P’s government era, the minister shared the figures from economic reports of mid 70s saying that the corruption was in the genetic make-up of previous government. The MNAs from PPP-P expressed reservation on his remarks and asked the chair to stop him commenting against their leadership.

Referring to the previous government, the minister used the word “ten percent” in context of corruption of the previous government era. Some PPP-P’s MNA strongly reacted on his remarks and rushed to gather around the speaker’s podium.  PPP-P’s young MNA Agha Rafi Ullah tore the copies of agenda and proceeded to seemingly engage in fistfight with Omar Ayub.

MNAs besiege minister, tear apart agenda copies

The treasury benches MNAs gathered around the minister to cool down the situation.  Deputy speaker after failing to control the messy situation abruptly suspended the proceedings for ten minutes and then after the break adjourned the session.

Earlier, the minister said that there was a higher rate of inflation in the economy in the 1974. “Opposition only makes hue and cry ignoring the performance of its own era,” he said, mentioning that the previous government (PML-N) had deteriorated the situation in the country.

He said that there was a 101 percent increase in the circulation of currency notes during Nawaz Sharif government. He said that the opposition parties were actually scared of the performance of the current government era. “This government will overcome the obstacles the previous government has left behind,” he said.

Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, on his turn, asked the government to form a parliamentary committee to probe the reason behind the shortage of flour and sugar. He said this government had not provided any relief to masses.  About Hafeez Sheikh’s speech, he said that facts were not shared about the current economic situation in the country.

“Why don’t the ministers share the performance of their ministries? By sharing the reports of Moody’s, you [Government] cannot ignore the current economic situation,” he said, adding that except banning plastic bags no practical measures were taken.  The former prime minister said that the debt would increase if this government manages to complete its tenure. “If anyone wants to know the current government, he should read novel [Animal form],” he said. Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, opening the debate, said that this government has taken practical steps to bring down the prices of essential commodities observing that stoppage of trade with India.  The minister claimed that the inflation would come down in next one to two months.

“A big relief package has been announced through the Utility Stores Corporation to provide essential items such as flour, rice, pulses and sugar to the people at discounted rates,” he said, mentioning that the government was also planning to enhance the network of utility stores from 4000 to 6000 in the next few months while number of population benefitting from stores would also increase from five million to 10 million. He said those who had themselves approached the IMF should not be criticising the current government for doing the same.

The minister said the taxes also witnessed a growth of 16.5 percent during the first seven months of current fiscal year. The current account deficit has been reduced from twenty billion dollars to two billion dollars whilst the fiscal deficit has also been cut. “This government is not only focusing to enhance tax collection but also non-tax revenue,” he said.