ISLAMABAD -  While the government has decided to present its last budget 2017-2018 before the month of Ramazan, no funds have so far been released to the MNAs during the entire tenure of the present set-up.

The opposition parties especially women lawmakers on reserved seats almost in every session of the National Assembly have raised their concerns over the issue.

These MNAs from the main opposition parties on their concerns were often given just verbal assurances by Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab. “This government has never refused funds for development programmes,” Sheikh Aftab has often countered the opposition with this argument.

Sources in the opposition parties said that all opposition MNAs would strongly raise the issue of depriving them of development funds.

“Opposition will strongly raise the issue of non-provision of development funds in the budgetary session,” said an MNA belonging to the opposition.

According to available official documents the PML-N government has not released funds to members of the National Assembly during the tenure of the present government.

“Funds under Pak MDGs Community Development Programme and PM’s Global SDGs Achievement Programme have been released for execution of development schemes identified by 15 residents of an area or civil society organisation,” according to a written response given by the minister to an MNA from the opposition benches.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab, while talking to The Nation on Tuesday said that development funds could not be directly released to the MNAs.

“Now through a community programme, funds are released for the required place,” the minister said.

Sheikh Aftab further said that the Ministry of Planning and Ministry of Finance mainly deal with this matter.

It would not be out of place to mention here that the opposition have time and again blamed the PML-N government for discriminatory attitude with the opposition regarding uplift programmes.

Opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah, on the floor of the NA, had asked government to release development funds to both the opposition MNAs and as well as members of the treasury benches equally.

MQM for the last few months has been asking the government to release development funds for the MNAs at least in the last budget of its tenure.

It was also reported that Rs50 million had been specified for MNAs from the treasury benches.

The government side might give a smaller chunk of development fund to the opposition lawmakers as compared to the MNAs on the treasury benches.

The government will present the budget in the federal cabinet during the last week of May for approval.

The budget will be presented in the National Assembly and the Senate on the same day.

Similarly, the meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) will be held in the first week of May.

The government would also share the economic performance of the outgoing fiscal year 2016-2017.