LAHORE - The Punjab Assembly on Thursday approved 41 demands for grants worth over Rs1800 billion with majority, completing first phase of approval of provincial budget for the fiscal year 2020-21. Treasury and opposition benches resorted to blame game during debate on cut motions.

The session started one hour and 23 minutes behind the scheduled time with Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi in the chair.

Opposing the cut motion presented by the opposition against demand for grants for health department, Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid said thalassemia centres were functioning in all 36 districts of the province where so far 350,000 people have been screened.

She said 50 per cent posts in the department were vacant when the PTI assumed charge of the province and so far the government has filled 28,000 of the vacancies.

Responding to cut motion against demand for grants for police department, Law Minister Raja Basharat said session was scheduled to start at 2pm while the police had reached the venue at 12noon. He said the policemen were standing in the sun as not a single lawmaker would have offered them a glass of water nor anyone talk of increasing their salaries and perks.

He said before criticizing anyone the opposition must think that the police were at the forefront of the battle against coronavirus. He claimed that the crime rate under the PTI regime declined and urged the legislators to compare two years of PTI rule with that of 10 years of PML-N government to differentiate between performances of the two regimes.

He said the government would bear the cost of investigation at police stations and for the purpose budget for the investigation wing has been increased for the first time. He said that 5000 more police personnel would be recruited, Highway Patrol Posts would be reintroduced.  Denying that the Forensic Science Lab was being closed down, he said though the government was facing some funding issue for the project.

Opposing the cut motion against the demand for grant for education department, Education Minister alleged the PML-N had devastated the department and continued harassing teachers through transfers during its 10-year tenure.  He said the present regime has introduced a mobile app for teachers’ transfer.

He claimed that they had re-enrolled 22,000 dropped-out students through an afternoon pilot programme.

He claimed the PML-N had established the last primary school in 2015, while the PTI is going to open 100 new primary schools in Lahore besides introducing an Insaf Mobile School project for educating the children working in various markets.

On completion of agenda, the chair adjourned the session till Friday (today) at 2pm.