LAHORE  -   Opposition Leader Hamza Shehbaz on Monday initiated budget debate as per tradition of the Punjab Assembly.

Legislators from both sides of the political divide resorted to usual sloganeering before start of the budget debate. The chair, however, managed to restore order to enable the Opposition Leader to continue speech uninterrupted. The session started one hour and 20 minutes behind the schedule with Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi in the chair.

In the start of proceedings, the House witnessed rumpus. Treasury legislators chanted slogans of ‘chor chor’ and ‘daku daku’ when the chair invited the Opposition Leader for initiating debate as per the set traditions. The Opposition legislators responded the treasury with retaliatory sloganeering. Prudent speaker, however, managed to restore calm that prevailed till adjournment of the session.

Opening budget debate, Hamza Shehbaz said that a country could not make progress with the auction of buffaloes and vehicles. He said that the Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance has accepted failure in controlling exchange rate of dollar. In such a situation, he said, only the God Almighty could put the economy on right track. He counseled PM Imran Khan to come down from the container and do politics for the country. Referring to the PTI’s promise of generating 10 million jobs, he said that wrong policies of the present regime had rendered more than one million people jobless. He said that mobile health units and latest equipment like CT Scan were lying dysfunctional. He said the poor patients were not getting free medicines. He said the present regime has withdrawn subsidy on fertilizers that would led to decrease in production of crops like cotton. He said that the present regime has drastically slashed budget for key sectors including health, education, agriculture and livestock. He said that the elected local bodies representatives have been sent home without announcing next elections. He said that bureaucrats have been installed to resolve grievances of people at the grass root level. He said that allocation of Rs4 billion for building 5million houses was a big joke. He said that no progress has been witnessed on giving south Punjab status of province despite lapse of one year. He said that share of South Punjab in the budget has been slashed by 50 per cent. He said the economy was in shambles and the common man was facing difficulties in making both ends meet. He said that the coming generation would not forgive if ‘we continued blame game without making serious efforts to put the economy on right track’. He said that PM Imran Khan has written three letters to Indian PM Modi. In all these letters, he said, it was lamentable that he only talked about steps for curbing terrorism.

Law Minister Raja Basharat said that not only buffaloes and cars, anything could be sold for taking the province forward. He said that the PML-N legislators had yet to pay dues of Punjab house amounting to Rs500 million. He suggested recovering outstanding dues of Punjab House from the salaries of defaulter PML-N legislators. He said that the government would send list of defaulter MPAs to the election commission. He said that those who looted the province were complaining about penny less kitty. He said the unlike the previous regime, everybody would get free medicines and education. He said that those who committed wrongs would be held accountable. He said that millions had been earned and deposited in the kitty against petrol pumps sites previously giving merely Rs5,000 monthly rent. He accused the previous regime of spending billions on unnecessary projects. On the pattern in the centre, he said that the commission would be constituted to probe spending of borrowed money.

 

He said that the South Punjab was getting allocation in the previous regime that remained unutilized. This time, he said, cabinet has approved utilizing all allocated funds only on projects in the South Punjab. He said that work on only Finance Department approved projects would be started.

On completion of time, the chair adjourned the session till Tuesday (today) at 3pm.