LAHORE - The Punjab Assembly on Monday approved Demands for Grants amounting to Rs208 billion for Health and Education with a majority vote, rejecting cut motions moved by the Opposition legislators.

Out of 41 Demands for Grants, the Opposition has brought cut motion only in five. Prior to debate and voting on cut motion, Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakhat completed winding up budget speech.

The session started one hour and 40 minutes behind the scheduled time with Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi in the chair.

Speaking on cut motion for health, PML-N’s Malik Ahmed Khan accused the present regime of stopping projects initiated by Shehbaz Sharif led provincial government. Referring to the PTI claims of bringing change, he said that in reality the situation has gone from bad to worse. He said that the government has targeted Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute just like the other projects only in enmity of Shehbaz Sharif. He suggested forming a parliamentary committee to evaluate that whether the PKLI was needed or not. He counseled the government to correct direction and continue good projects of last regime.

Waris Kallu said that the government has also failed to achieve the target set in the mini budget. He said that the government was claiming increase in health budget but in reality the allocation had been slashed by five per cent.

Khalil Tahir Sandhu accused former federal minister for health of taking Rs9 billion as bribe for increasing prices of medicine by 400 per cent. He said that the government should fulfill the promise of across the board accountability. He accused the government of ending free medicines and clinical tests facilities at hospitals. Referring to the announcement of building nine new hospitals, he said that not a single penny has been allocated for these projects. Without PC-1 and procurement of land, he said apparently these hospitals would be built in the space like PTI’s other projects.

Kh Imran Nazir said that the present government has not started even a single project. He said that bifurcation of health department was a good initiative of the previous regime that would go a long way in improving service delivery. He said that the previous regime filled vacant posts of doctors at BHUs and RHCs by giving 10 additional marks for induction as postgraduate trainee. He said that health councils was a good initiative that helped resolving issues at hospital level. He said that hepatitis patients were not getting free medicines and PCR test facilities.

Health minister Dr Yasmin Rashid said that the previous regime failed to achieve the targets of Millennium Development Goals. She said the government has set priorities keeping in view the needs of public at large. She said that mother and child health was a priority. Referring to the accusation of shelving projects of previous regime, she said that the government has allocated funds for 133 schemes started from 2009-2018. She said that Rs65 billions were needed to complete these projects. She said that the government was continuing projects to save already spent public money. She said that the government would complete dental college started by Parvez Elahi but shelved by the previous regime. Referring to the revamping of 40 DHQ/THQ hospitals, she said that not a single health facility was completed by the previous government. She accused the previous regime of procuring equipment and keeping these at rented warehouses before completion of civil work. Referring to the PKLI, she said the project was initiated without PC-1 and ECNEC approval. She said that not a single liver transplant was performed at the Institute during the previous regime. During the present regime, she said, three liver and 28 kidney transplants have been performed at the PKLI. She said that BoG has been reconstituted to run the affairs of the PKLI.

The House approved Demands for Grants amounting to Rs141.77 billion with a majority vote.

Speaking on the education cut motion, Education minister Dr Murad Ross said the previous rulers launched a white elephant in the name of Danish Schools which only catered for a few thousand students on huge funds which could otherwise have catered for the education of millions of students. He said the government saved Rs4 to Rs5 billion of corruption by creating an online system of teachers’ transfers enabling at least 60-70 thousand teachers to apply for their transfers from their homes. He said the government was planning to bring in over ten million children in the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) system which was bound to increase literacy and raising education standard.

Higher Education Minister Yasir Humayun said the government was bringing a revolutionary change in education marking system by doing away with the absolute marking system which had been promoting the rote method of learning. Instead, the government was bringing the relative grading system thus promoting critical thinking and creating approach for solving issues. He also invited the opposition in the process for giving useful suggestions. He said the education system needed to be revamped by changing the curriculum at the basic levels to eradicate the discrimination on the basis of social strata. He said the government was trying to bring a curriculum related with industries so that graduates could easily get the jobs in their fields of choices. He said despite the criticism from the opposition on the PhD scholarships program, the government was changing it for the benefit of the entire system instead of the previous system which benefitted only few scholars at the cost of huge funds from the public exchequer.

The House approved Demand for Grant of Rs 66.3736 billion for Education with a majority.

On completion time, the chair adjourned the session till Tuesday (today) at 3pm.