Amidst protests, NA approves Finance Supplementary (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019

Published March 6, 2019
The government on Wednesday bulldozed through the National Assembly the Finance Supplementary (Second Amendment) Bill of 2019, commonly referred to as the PTI government's second 'mini-budget', which had been presented by Finance Minister Asad Umar on January 23. — Reuters/File
The government on Wednesday bulldozed through the National Assembly the Finance Supplementary (Second Amendment) Bill of 2019, commonly referred to as the PTI government's second 'mini-budget', which had been presented by Finance Minister Asad Umar on January 23. — Reuters/File

The government on Wednesday bulldozed through the National Assembly the Finance Supplementary (Second Amendment) Bill of 2019, commonly referred to as the PTI government's second 'mini-budget', which had been presented by Finance Minister Asad Umar on January 23.

Umar had described the bill as a measure to address the people of Pakistan's needs. The government had framed it as a package of policies designed to boost the economy, but critics described it as a tax break for the rich.

Since the introduction of the bill in the parliament, a number of amendments had been tacked on to the original bill during its passage through Senate.

On Feb 25, the 55 proposed amendments in the bill were laid out for discussion by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan on behalf of Umar in the NA. The NA today rejected all amendments to the bill proposed by the opposition.

During the session, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari thanked the Speaker for allowing opposition parties to speak on the budget.

"It would have been an unprecedented move were there not to be a debate on the budget. And while we thank you for that, I must reiterate, on the floor of the House, that it would be most appropriate if there was a complete and proper debate on the finance bill."

Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) MNA Maulana Asad Mehmood concurred, arguing that the finance bill should be debated in the NA for three days prior to approval.

But even as the opposition objected, NA Speaker Asad Qaiser started the process of passing the finance bill amidst noise and commotion.

In protest, opposition members tore up copies of the bill and threw them over their desks.

In a dubious first, Maghrib prayers were also offered on the floor of the National Assembly, led by Maulana Mehmood of JUI-F, in a bid to obstruct the parliamentary proceedings.

PML-N's Khawaja Asif and Ahsan Iqbal also took part in the prayers. The Speaker was forced to adjourn proceedings for ten minutes to avoid further confrontation.

— DawnNewsTV
— DawnNewsTV

Opposition members then walked out as the assembly returned from recess.

Speaking to media after the bill was approved, Bilawal Bhutto said debate on the budget was essential and protest was a right of the opposition.

He said it was not right to just permit parliamentary leaders to speak. He said all members of the NA should be given a right to debate the budget.

He said that there should be at least four days of debate on the budget and added that the government's "bulldozing" was undemocratic and unconstitutional.

"Protest on this action of the government is essential," Bilawal said.

Opinion

Shadow soldiers
10 May 2021

Shadow soldiers

Today, there are mercenary armies that make Blackwater look like babies.

Editorial

11 May 2021

Kabul massacre

AFGHANISTAN is a land that has seen plenty of massacres during decades of unrest. However, despite this almost...
Divisive move
Updated 11 May 2021

Divisive move

The whole point of these reforms is to ensure that all major political stakeholders are on board, and that there is a consensus.
11 May 2021

Bank loan concerns

THE combined gross non-performing loan portfolio of the country’s banks and DFIs increased marginally by 2.6pc or...
10 May 2021

Safe havens

THE pull-out of foreign forces from Afghanistan has security ramifications for that country as well as neighbouring...
10 May 2021

Important bills

AT last, there is some movement on critical legislation that appeared to have been put on the back-burner. The...
Al Aqsa clashes
Updated 10 May 2021

Al Aqsa clashes

US policy remains wedded to blind support for the Jewish state.