ISLAMABAD - The National Assembly for the second consecutive day on Saturday witnessed a longest budget debate with the opposition terming it anti-people budget and government confident to achieve its set targets.

The MNAs from both sides of aisle, in almost a half-day sitting, sharing their budgetary proposals did not hesitate to hold responsible each other governments for current deteriorating economic situation of the country.

In a second consecutive marathon sitting, the lawmakers were mostly seen leaving the house after delivering their speeches except some of them remained in the house till the end of proceedings. The house was mostly run without the required quorum (86 members), as merely around a dozen lawmakers remained present in the house.

PPP-P Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari attended the proceedings for a short time. Main lawmakers from opposition and government sides during the budget debate were not present in the house.

PML-N central leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi taking part in the debate pointed out that the government will have no option but to increase the prices of things just to fill the gap of Rs1500 billion.

Abbasi says withdrawal of zero-rated facility will hit exports: Slams Commission of Inquiry to prob 10-year debts

About the tax collection efforts of PTI’s government, he said the government needs to win the trust of people. “Due to trust-deficit, people reluctant to cooperate with the government,” he said, mentioning the elections 2018 was the real reason behind the ongoing economic issues in the country. He was of the view that the government put in danger the country’s security by tripling the payment of interest on foreign as well as domestic loans.

For the first time in history of Pakistan, he said, a government was happy over reducing the defence budget. “Instead of reducing defence expenses, there is a need to cut unnecessary expenditures,” he said.  He said that withdrawal of zero rated facility for export industry would consequently decrease exports of the country.

PTI government could not achieve target for tax collection worth Rs4000 billion. “Government has deteriorated the economic situation only in ten months. What would be the situation if this government complete its tenure,” said former minister, mentioning that the Rs5500 billion target set for next financial year would not be achieved easily. He also offered government to jointly work with opposition for the betterment of the country.

Former prime minister criticised the constitution of a Commission of Inquiry to probe a rise in public indebtedness over the last ten year. About the members of commission, he said how members of NAB, ISI and IB could question parliament and the budgets passed by the house.

About the production order issue, he said that the chair should also issue production orders of two members from North Waziristan Mohsin  Dawar and Ali Wazir.

Another PML-N’s senior member Ayaz Sadiq said that the government members should behave responsibly. “If you [government] are not serious for ‘charter of economy’, we also have no need to stress for it,” he commented.

Former speaker national assembly criticised the government for reducing the funds specified for health and education sectors. He proposed to initiate inquiry into rupee devaluation against dollar. “There are some people in the country, who took advantage of the situation,” he said.

Minister of State for Information Ali Muhammad, on his turn, said that there was a need to get rid of interest-free economic system. “Islamic Banking needs to be introduced,” he said, mentioning the vision of Quaid-e-Azam about the economic system should be taught to young people of country.

PTI’s Parliamentary Secretary on Finance MNA Farukh Habib, on his turn, said PTI’s government has come into power in severe economic crisis. “25 million children are out of schools due to poor policies of previous governments,” he said, mentioning that there was a need to respect constitution and vote. He lauded the armed forces for voluntarily reducing their budget.

MNA from Balochistan Robina Irfan warned the government not to reduce three per cent in NFC. “We will not accept it at any cost,” he said, mentioning that the government should have at least consulted them before making this budget. “People from Balochistan will continue to raise its voice for their genuine rights,” she said proposing to form a committee to resolve the issues of Balochistan province.

MNA Farooq Azam from Southern Punjab called for the creation of Bahawalpur province. He said they were not opposed to the creation of Southern Punjab province but want Bahwalpur as separate province. Nawab of Bahawalpur, he said, helped Quaid-e-Azam and Pakistan  when newborn country was in financial crisis. “Imran Khan had himself promised for the creation of province when he came to the area last year,” he said. He asked the opposition to give five years to PTI’s government. He also opposed the decision of increasing tax on sugar, ghee and cooking oil.

PML-N’s Shaista Pervaiz , taking part in debate, preferred to mostly talk about his party’s supermo Nawaz Sharif. “Even they are not allowing his [Nawaz Sharif] mother to meet him,” she said, mentioning that human rights organisations should take notice of it. About budget 2019-20, Shaista said people are living miserable life due to economic situation in the country.

PTI’s MNA Saif-ur-Rahman said that both the parties (PPP-PML-N) had looted the country in the name of charter of democracy. Residents of Karachi, he said, were suffering shortage of water due to 18th amendment