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NA to debate finance bill as session begins today

Updated February 20, 2019

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Opposition plans to give treasury bench a hard time on placement of Shahbaz's name on ECL, Pak-India ties and MBS visit. — File photo
Opposition plans to give treasury bench a hard time on placement of Shahbaz's name on ECL, Pak-India ties and MBS visit. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly is set to take up the finance bill in its session starting today (Wednesday) with opposition planning to give a tough time to the government on a number of key issues, including placement of the name of Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif on the no-fly list, India-Pakistan relations in the wake of Pulwama attack and the recent visit of the Saudi crown prince.

Talking to reporters after attending a meeting of the standing committee on Tuesday, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan said the government had a plan to get the second finance bill, which had been presented by Finance Minister Asad Umar last month, passed by the house during its upcoming session.

The minister said that the members would be provided opportunity to hold a debate on the finance bill before putting it for a vote.

Opposition planning to give tough time to govt on placement of Shahbaz’s name on no-fly list, ties with India in the wake of Pulwama attack and Saudi crown prince’s visit

The government had tabled the bill on Jan 21 and then the speaker had prorogued the session without any debate on it.

Sources in the opposition told Dawn that a combined meeting of all the opposition parties would be held before start of the session to devise its strategy. It is, however, not clear as to who will preside over the meeting in the absence of the opposition leader, who has been advised complete rest due to his health condition.

PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb has announced that since the doctors had asked Mr Sharif not to travel, he would not be attending the session.

The sources, however, said the opposition members would seek an explanation from the government over the move to place Mr Sharif’s name on the no-fly list after he was granted bail by the Lahore High Court in the Aashiyana Housing scam.

When contacted, Ms Aurangzeb said that the opposition would ask the government to take parliament into confidence over its recent talks with the International Monetary Fund in Dubai. She said the opposition was also concerned over the situation in the region after the Pulwama attack and would definitely want the government to take the house into confidence over the issue.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly Secretariat has issued an 11-point agenda for the opening day of the eighth session of the house.

The finance minister will lay before the house the first quarterly report of the board of directors of the State Bank of Pakistan on the state of the economy for the year 2018-19 and the fiscal and debt policy statements for the year 2018-19.

The house will also discuss the recommendations of the Senate on the finance bill.

The discussion on “the energy situation in the country and possible way forward” is also on the agenda for the opening day sitting of the NA.

The house will also take up a calling attention notice inviting “attention of the minister for religious affairs to increase in the Haj expenses due to withdrawal of subsidy by the government”.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2019