Abrar Saeed and Usman Cheema ISLAMABAD - National Assembly on Tuesday gave approval to some 163 demand for grants amounting to Rs 1454.68 billion, rejecting some 113 cut motions presented by the opposition to curtail the proposed allocations for Ministry of Food and Agriculture and Ministry of Communication. State Minister for Finance Hina Rabbani Khar in all presented 187 demands for grants out of which opposition members had proposed cut motions in the demands for grants against some 34 ministries and their allied departments pertaining to Ministries of Communications, Food and Agriculture, Finance, Foreign Affairs and Industries and Production, Investment, Interior, Petroleum, Ports and Fishing, Water and Power and Information Technology. While some 153 demands for grants were not opposed by the opposition members and the same were approved by the House with voice vote. These demands for grants related to Cabinet Division, Establishment, Federal Public Service Commission, Prime Minister Scretariat, Ehtesab Breau, Pime Minister Inspection Commission, Nuclear Technology, Printing, Trade, Culture, Defence, Weather, Survey of Pakistan, Defence Production, Statistics, Education, Higher Education Commission, Environment, Finance, Controller General Accounts, Textile, National Budget, FBR, Foreign Affairs, Health, Housing and Works, FATA, Labour and Manpower, Law and Justice, Minorities Affairs, Anti Narcotics, National Assembly, Senate, Overseas Pakistanis, Postal Services, Railways, Special Education, Zakat, Ushr, Afghan Refugees and others. Later Ms Hina Rabbani Khar tabled 3 demands for grants amounting to over Rs 4.49 billion in respect of Ministry of Communications. Opposition moved 38 cut motions on these demands for grants. State Minister for Finance also presented some seven demands for grants of Rs 19.85 billion in regard to Ministry of Food and Agriculture while 73 cut motions were tabled by opposition in this connection. The House rejected these cut motions and gave approval to these demands for grants. The opposition MPs targeted both Ministry of Communications particularly National Highway Authority one of its subordinate departments for its failure to provide proper road network in different parts of the country and suggested to curtail budgetary allocation for it. Similarly the MPs grilled the performance of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture for its failure to come up to the occasion on various counts and disappointed the farming community. They targeted various allied departments including the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council for not coping with the fast-changing demands of the farmers and suggested curtailment in the budgetary allocation for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Speaking on cut motions in the Ministry of Communications, Birjees Tahir said the ministry collected millions of rupees from toll plazas so it does not need more grants. He criticized the performance of National Highway Authority and said Lahore-Gujranwala section of road should be completed within the stipulated time. Sheikh Aftab said quality of roads should not be compromised, adding that the House be informed about the expenditure on construction of Pindi-Attock Khurd road. Kashmala Tariq said the government should focus on promotion of social sector instead of wasting money on unnecessary projects, which would help create more jobs opportunities for the younger generation. She regretted that work on Lahore Ring Road is being delayed for the last seven years and urged the government to blacklist the contractors for using substandard materials in road projects. The mover called for setting up more pedestrian bridges on highways and promotion of public transport sector to facilitate the common man. Riaz Fatiyana said about 6000 people are killed in road accidents every year in Pakistan, holding the Ministry solely responsible. Hanif Abbasi underlined the need to strengthen road-network across the country to attain progress and prosperity. Humayun Saifullah drew the attention towards the reconstruction of 100-year old Khushhal Garh bridge and its dilapidated condition is posing great threat to human lives. He pleaded for setting up more rest houses along the highways on a suitable distance to facilitate the commuters. Sheikh Waqas Akram highlighted the issue of foreign companies those get contracts and sub-let to local contractors, putting quality at stake. Shahjahan Yusuf, Tahira Aurangzeb, Rana Tanvir Hussain, Shireen Arshad Khan, Marvi Memon, Maulana Asmatullah, Nuzhat Sadiq, Prince Mohidduin, Nighat Parveen, Malik Abrar and Anjum Aqeel were among the speakers who also spoke on the motion, criticizing the policies of the Ministry of Communications. Later, Minister for Communications Arbab Alamgir thanked the parliamentarians for pointing out some flaws and deficiencies in the ministry and apprised the House that 2,90,000 kilometer roads fall in the jurisdiction of the NHA where 80 per cent commercial traffic of the country is accommodated. He vowed to ensure quality of national highways at par with the international standard. The minister said there are about 84 functional toll plazas on national highways and this government, for the first time, has started auction of Toll Plazas. At present, 26 Toll Plazas have been auctioned through transparent bidding, while foreign investors would be invited for the contracts of Motorway Toll Plazas, he added. He said the Plazas on highways have generated Rs 1.5 billion in last year which is a good contribution to the national exchequer. While, toll of Motorway would be increased to Rs. four billion from current around two billion shortly. Arbab Alamgir said M-I, Faisalabad-Khanewal-Multan, is almost complete and hoped that the Prime Minister would soon inaugurate this section of Motorway. Ninety-eight per cent work on Gwadar-Gewani section of the coastal highway has been completed, which would also be inaugurated soon, he added. He said the government is giving top priority to National Trade Corridor to boost trade activities with Central Asian States. The minister said he would look into the matters of reported joint ventures in which foreign companies qualify for projects and award sub-contracts to local companies. Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Nazar Mohammad Gondal responding to the criticism on his ministry and its allied departments said that they were working on plan to eliminate the role of middleman from the agriculture sector so that the benefit should go to the farmers. He said that for the first time in the history of the country they had become self-sufficient in food and this year they were having surplus wheat, maze, grain and other food grain. He also informed the House about various agriculture projects for Balochistan so that it could be brought at par with other provinces. He also referred to the construction of some 32 small dams to enhance the water capacity for irrigation. Refuting the fertilizer shortage he said that at present country was in need of some 30 lakh tons of Urea fertilizer whereas they were having the home production of 26 lakh tons while the shortfall was met by the import and they had asked the provinces to improve the supply network so that farmers could get the fertilizer in time. He also announced various reforms measures and thanked the members for taking part in the debate and assured the members that their positive suggestions would be considered while formulating future policies.