LAHORE: The Treasury and the Opposition on Monday found a rare consensus on the attitude of bureaucracy and its lack of seriousness to take up the business of the Punjab Assembly.
PML-N lawmaker Samiullah Khan drew the attention of Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi towards the absence of officials of all the departments concerned in the official gallery.
“It is very rare to note that not a single official of any department concerned is present in the House in connection with the lawmakers’ questions (related to different departments), call attention notices and adjournment motions,” he said and requested the Speaker to give a ruling in this respect.
Law Minister Basharat Raja replied a minister was supposed to ensure the presence of the official concerned of his department(s) in the House when its business was taken up.
“The ministers should exert their authority to ensure the presence of the officials (bureaucrats),” he added.
Not a single official of depts concerned was present in PA
Another minister, Chaudhry Zaheeruddin, demanded that the administrative secretary of the department concerned should be present in the House. He said a lawmaker laboured to prepare questions and absence of the officials was a serious matter.
At this, Pervaiz Ealhi gave the ruling that the administrative secretary of the department whose questions were taken up in the House should be present on that day. The Opposition appreciated this ruling.
PPP parliamentary leader Hasan Murtaza and PML-N’s Ilyas Chinioti staged a walkout on the comments of Chaudhry Zaheeruddin.
“The people of my district (Chiniot) are called liars (on the issue of discovery of iron and gold there). I am walking out in protest,” Chinioti said.
Mr Murtaza questioned the PTI government’s claims of introducing uniform education system in the country.
“What happened to this tall claim of the Imran Khan government,” he asked and drew attention of the government to the matter of private school fee.
“Despite the Supreme Court’s order (to reduce fee by 20pc), some private schools are still charging high fee,” he lamented.
PML-N MPA Arshad Malik challenged the veracity of the statistics on the stock of fine quality wheat presented by Punjab Food Minister Samiullah Chaudhry.
“The minister said the government had so far released 4.4m metric ton wheat and another 1.5m metric ton would be released by April.” Mr Malik asked the government to tell how much wheat was substandard.
Punjab Food Minister Samiullah Chaudhry criticised the PML-N government for giving subsidy to the farmers for the last 10 years that had increased pressure on the government.
Speaker Pervaiz Elahi asked Basharat Raja (head of a committee) to look into wheat-related matters to take stock of the situation as new crop was ready and added that the government did not want the farmers to suffer.
The PML-N’s Azma Bokhari presented a privilege motion in the House, drawing the attention of the government to the plight of public hospitals which were facing a financial crisis. She said CT scan and MRI machines were out of order in the public hospitals and there was no availability of medicines because of lack of funds which had increased patients’ miseries. When she expressed dissatisfaction with the reply of Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid, Mr Elahi said a full day would be fixed to have a debate on health issues.
The House again faced the issue of quorum, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the proceedings till today (Tuesday).
Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2019