LAHORE - Demanding preparation of budget and release of funds to departments through standing committees, opposition legislators contended that bureaucracy overlooked issues of the masses owing to lack of coordination with the elected representatives.

Taking part in the debate on budget for the fiscal year 2015-16 at the Punjab assembly floor on Tuesday, the treasury legislators, however, termed the budget balanced and people-friendly wherein unprecedented allocations have been made for education, health, agriculture and development of the province with focus on the South.

The proceeding started one hour and 15 minutes beyond the scheduled time with Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan in the chair. Though the proceedings generally remained peaceful, remarks of Jamaat-e-Islami Parliamentary Leader Dr Waseem Akhtar caused the PML-N ladies, led by Azma Bokhari, to stand up in protest, after terming the budget ‘zanana budget’. That caused uproar and strong protest by Azma Bokhari and her female colleagues on the treasury benches. The chair, however, intervened and managed to restore normalcy.

Opening debate, PML-Q’s Ahmed Shah Khagga suggested revising policy as people in rural areas were against co-education. He said that the government should devise a mechanism for purchasing crop from growers to save them from exploitation at the hands of middle man. He also suggested increasing allocation for agriculture.

Q-League’s Dr Afzal said that 100 MW solar plants in Bahawalpur were actually producing only 30MW electricity. He said that the government has slashed budget for Cholistan by Rs1 billion. He demanded completion of abandoned projects and initiation of new schemes for water supply.

Dr Waseem Akhtar suggested giving role to standing committees in preparation of budget and release of funds to departments. He suggested midterm review and quarterly approval of budget from the PA. He said the federal sharia court has declared interest based economy un-Islamic but the government was carrying out the practice under the protection of a stay order. He urged the government to take measures for making economy interest free. He also demanded constitution of District Finance Commission on the pattern of NFC Award.

Opposition legislator Javed Akhtar said that the government was giving priority to defeated people on opposition MPAs.

PTI’s Asif Mahmood said that the treasury members were accepting that the government has failed to deliver. He said that the opposition was not against Danish Schools and Metro Bus but against utilization of more funds on such projects as compared to higher education, special education and health.

Nabeela Hakim Ali said that the government was bringing people living below poverty line in tax net and ignoring doctors, owners of academies and such mafias. She demanded establishment of Agriculture University and Home Economic College in Sahiwal.

Treasury legislator Azma Bokhari said that the PTI was against Metro Bus in Lahore but at the same time preparing feasibility of the project for Peshawar. She said that those who planned to topple federal government got 78 per cent resources from the federation for Khyber Pakhtunkhawa budget. She said that KPK would definitely get change but Punjab would get prosperity.

Treasury legislator Zulfiqar Ali Khan suggested constitution of Rural Development Authority for managing affairs in rural Punjab.

Ch Assad Ullah stressed the need of focusing on Agriculture for avoiding looming threat for growers. He said that input cost in Pakistan was much higher than any other country in the world. He said that there was need of focusing on research for improving yield and decreasing input cost. He demanded judicious and equitable distribution of resources among districts keeping in view population and poverty index.

Treasury legislator Rana Muhammad Afzal said priority has been given to less developed areas in budget which was commendable. He stressed the need of taking measures for the prosperity of growers for avoiding future crisis. He demanded subsidy for growers on diesel, fertilizers, seeds and agriculture equipment.

After completion of agenda, the chair adjourned the session till Wednesday (today).