LAHORE - Concluding the pre-budget debate in Punjab Assembly, Punjab Finance Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman on Friday told the House that government intended to increase education budget by 30 per cent in the next financial year besides enhancing spending on infrastructure.

Setting priorities of his government, Shuja said that promotion of education, establishment of more basic health units, improvement in law and order situation, increase in agriculture production, computerisation of revenue record, provision of safe drinking water, and building of road infrastructure would remain prime focus of the govt during the coming fiscal.

On education, he said that the government has decided to allocate Rs 41 billion to education which was 30 per cent higher compared to the existing budget. He said that Rs 7.70 billion had already been released for provision of missing facilities in schools in 11 districts of Southern Punjab.

He said government had already spent Rs 7. 80 billion on laptop scheme while Rs 487m had been released for construction of Cardiology Institute Wazirabad.

Responding to queries by Assembly members, he said that government had to release more funds in terms of supplementary budget to address security related issues and to meet expenditures on visits by heads of states of foreign countries.

However, he added, that the budget for Chief Minister House has been decreased by 30 per cent.  The government, he said, had allocated Rs 12 billion for the provision of clean drinking water. Under this programme, 1479 filtration plants would be installed in 33 districts, he further informed the House.

Earlier, during the question hour, Deputy Speaker, Shair Ali Gorchani and a Treasury member Tahir Ahmad Sindhu exchanged hot words during the question hour. The point of contention was that Sindhu wanted to speak on a supplementary question but Gorchani did not allow him to speak.

Much to the embarrassment of the government, the Treasury member kept on speaking for quite some time in utter defiance of chair’s orders. “Mr Speaker! You want to bulldoze the House, but we would not allow you to do so”, Sindhu remarked in an emotional tone.

Meanwhile, when the Parliamentary Secretary for Planning Department Ahmad Karim Langrial received a chit from the official gallery, Sindhu objected to it, stating it was against the Assembly rules of procedure. He was countered by another Treasury member Ch Muhammad Iqbal Gujjar who pleaded that there was no illegality in this practice.

The matter did not end here. Another PML-N member, Alauddin Sheikh stood on a point of order and lodged protest over inordinate delay in receipt of answers by provincial departments and asked the Chair to take notice of it.  He also called for early completion of the new Punjab Assembly building, stating that construction cost was on the rise with every passing day.

Azma Zahid Bokhari, also a Treasury member, invited Deputy Speaker’s attention towards what she called rude behaviour of traffic wardens with the commuters. The chair assured her that government would look into the matter.

On completion of the agenda, the Deputy Speaker prorogued the session sine die.