ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government on Thursday failed to get Budget 2018-19 passed by the National Assembly due to the lack of quorum.

The ruling coalition, which has a two-thirds majority in the house, will now made another attempt to get passed the 6th finance bill of its outgoing term after ensuring maximum strength of the treasury benches.

In Thursday’s proceedings, the insufficient presence of legislators was first pointed out by PTI MNA Shireen Mazari. The session remained suspended for one-hour as most of the PML-N members were busy attending party’s parliamentary committee meeting chaired by PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif.

With the resumption of the proceedings, Mazari criticised the chair for suspending the house for over one hour. She had already blocked Finance Minister Miftah Ismail for concluding the debate on the budgetary proposals on Tuesday.

The house, after a break of one-hour, managed to pass all demands for grants pertaining to different ministries and departments for the next financial year.

The House passed 20 demands for grants of ministries and departments including the Human Rights Division, Industries and Production, Department of Investment Promotion and Supplies, Inter-Provincial Coordination, Kashmir Affairs, Law and Justice Division, Narcotics Control, Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, Postal Services Division, Pakistan Post Office, Privatization Division, Pakistan Railways, Fata, Statistics Division and Water Resources Division.

The opposition parties moved no cut motion on these demands for grants.

Miftah Ismail, in the last part of the federal budget debate, moved “The Finance Bill, 2018” to give legal effect to the budgetary proposals for the next financial year.

The finance minister assured the House that there would be no increase in prices of petroleum products after increasing the Petroleum Development Levy (PDL). The PDL would increase when oil prices decrease in international market.

He said that the government has given a massive tax relief of Rs110 billion to the salaried class by reducing their income rates. There would be a complete tax exemption on annual income of Rs1.2 million, he said. He also said that the government has barred non-taxpayers from purchasing property and vehicles in order to bring them under the tax net.

The minister said that the budget deficit for next fiscal year was estimated around Rs1.89 trillion. He admitted that trade deficit was snowballing but expressed the hope that it would be controlled as exports were increasing and imports were dipping. He said that sales tax on all fertilizers has been reduced to two percent from 17 percent.

As Miftah was fast moving towards passing the finance bill, PPP MNA Shugfta Jamani halted the proceedings by pointing out lack of quorum.

The deputy speaker, after counting the members, temporarily suspended the proceedings. As the treasury benches failed to beef up the strength in a 10 minutes break, the House was adjourned until today [Friday].

With the onset of the proceedings, the House also offered Fateha for military intelligence officer Col Sohail Abid, who was martyred in a gunfight with terrorists in Balochistan on Wednesday, and the Palestinian protesters martyred by Israeli forces in Gaza.

 

 

Govt fails to get budget passed from Assembly