ISLAMABAD - Appreciating the recommendations of the upper house on Finance Bill 2011, the parliamentarians from both treasury and opposition benches in the National Assembly on Thursday urged the government to give these a serious consideration. The Senate has forwarded 66 recommendations in the finance bill to the National Assembly where the budget debate was still underway and was expected to conclude today (Friday) by the Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh. In 35 hours long discussion almost 132 members out of the total 342 of the lower house took part in the debate. Taking part in the budget debate, PML-N lawmaker Ahsan Iqbal said that the 18th Amendment had further empowered the Senate with regard to budget. He said the Senators had given relevant recommendations on taxes collection and supported the recommendation of 25 per cent reduction in administrative expenditures and called for a check on the misuse of perks and privileges given to bureaucrats. Ahsan said that there were fiscal leakages to the tune of Rs250 to 400 billion in government corporations and no step had been taken to check it. He stressed giving top priority to the energy sector and said that incentives should be announced for private sector in hydle power generation projects. Though education and health had now become provincial subjects, even then more funds should be allocated for them, the PML-N leader said, adding that the government should also check the fiscal deficit as use of non-productive loans was adversely affecting the economy. He stressed solid steps for promotion of manufacturing sector with special focus on agriculture sector. Ahsan also said that law and order should be given top priority and more funds should be allocated for training of personnel and capacity building of police and intelligence agencies. PPP legislator Yasmin Rehman said that the recommendations proposed by the Senators for strengthening of tax collection and streamlining revenue system would improve and expand the tax system. She said that tax exemption for setting up a new industry was a good step but proposed that such exemption should not be given for reconstruction of old industrial units. She said that there should be physical input by the FBR to check fake companies tax returns and agreed with the proposal that tax on income from all sources should be deducted. Yasmeen Rehman said that state corporations like PIA, Pakistan Steels, Railways etc should be restructured. Dr Azra Afzal Pechio supported reforms in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and tax system and said that corruption in collection of taxes should be checked. She called for giving provincial status and extension of Political Parties Act to FATA as well as imposition of tax on vehicles carrying goods under the Pak-Afghan Transit Trade Agreement. However the Parliamentary leader of MNAs from Fata Munir Khan Orakzai came down hard on the government for neglecting Fata in the budget and alleged that the major chunk of much trumpeted huge development funds for Fata by the donors are ending up in the pockets of the officials executing different projects in the agencies. Majority of these officials getting lucrative salaries are non-natives, who remit the hefty amounts out of the region thereby leaving the natives almost empty-handed. And in terms of infrastructural development, there is no considerable difference and the people continue to suffer the status quo of 60 long years, he told the house. The hefty funds sought from foreign countries in the name of Fata were unfortunately not being utilised on the development of the area and welfare of its people. He said that Rs15 billion were earmarked for Fata in the outgoing budget but only Rs8.7 billion, almost half of the allocated amount, have been provided. The approved schemes worth Rs34 billion have not been completed so far due to paucity of funds, he added. Alleging that delaying tactics were being used regarding funds release, he resented that a considerable amount was released as late as in May. We have no magic to utilise the fund in one month, he said and demanded that the allocated funds should be released by up to December each year. Bushra Gohar of ANP proposed enhancing the role of the Parliament in the budget process instead of allowing the legislators just to deliver speeches after this important national document is prepared. She complained of inadequate funds allocation for construction of dams in Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa. Other who spoke includes MNA PPP Ejaz Jakhrani, MNA PML-N Tasneem Siddiqui and MNA PPP Raheela Baloch. Later speaking on the point of order, PPPs chief whip Syed Khursheed Shah thanked the MNAs for taking part in the budget debate. He said that 132 MNAs had so for taken part in the debate and they were given equal time. He said the members discussed the budget for 35 hours and added that their recommendations would be given due consideration by the finance minister when he would deliver his winding up speech on Friday.