Notwithstanding accommodation and adjustments in the budget 2009-10, the government vehemently defended its fiscal policy in the National Assembly. Like a well thought out strategy, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira delivered his budget speech as a forceful preamble to Minister of State for Finance Hina Rabbani Khars winding up of debate in the Lower House. Since Kaira has the art of countering the scathing criticism of the Opposition, speaking just before Khar he made young Finance Ministers job a bit easier. Khar was also well prepared and fluent as compared to her budget speech. Her choice to speak in English as against the compulsion to readout the budget speech in Urdu, too, made a lot of difference to her overall performance while winding up the debate. Before the House had reached the concluding last two speeches, it was a kind of boring scenario in NA hall. Still some between the lines communications continued between the two rival parties, the PPP and the PML-N. It became explicit when PML-N MNA Dr Tariq Fazal invited the ruling PPP to compete in good governance, since the PPP has the government at the centre while PML-N is ruling in Punjab. PPPs MNA Noor Alam from NWFP exposed the actual state of governance across the country saying on floor of the House that parliamentarians getting development funds were supposed to give out, at least, 16 per cent commission (a perforce bribe) to the concerned bureaucrats. The contractors, too, demand another 16 per cent and they say some MNAs and MPAs also claim commission. Then what would reach down to masses, the actual deserving party, he went unbarred. Alams utterances about corruption and threats to PPP leaders in NWFP perturbed the ruling partys Chief Whip Khursheed Shah who reprimanded him like a mentor right inside the House after he finished, while the budget debate continued. Unlike the governments foolproof strategy to defend the budget 2009-10, the Opposition was hardly one while debating it in the National Assembly. Former minister and central leader of PML-Q Faisal Saleh Hayat simply termed the budget as meaningless. He was talking to this scribe after the budget session when he foresaw many mini-budgets to follow the budget 2009-10. When a treasury MP pointed out that a mini-budget requires prior approval from the Parliament, Hayat said, Parliamentary approval is not a big deal for the government. He was right in pointing out that 68 per cent increase in development budget looked like absurd when actual spending during the outgoing financial year stood at 47 per cent. Apprehensions of development budget cut due to lack of fiscal space and delays in foreign pledges materialising would remain like a hanging sword over the fate of these funds. It would not be adequate to say that the Opposition won withdrawal of certain tax proposals including the carbon tax on CNG. More than the Opposition, members from the treasury benches were against those proposals that were withdrawn. It was Senates unanimous recommendation that forced the government to increase pay and pension raise from 15 per cent to 20 per cent.