Commission to probe PML-N mega projects in Punjab, minister tells PA

Updated June 18, 2019

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PTI's Punjab parliamentary party would float a proposal in the House for a commission to be formed. — DawnNewsTV/File
PTI's Punjab parliamentary party would float a proposal in the House for a commission to be formed. — DawnNewsTV/File

LAHORE: The Punjab government, following footsteps of the federal government, plans to establish a commission to probe the mega projects started by the previous PML-N government.

Law Minister Basharat Raja made public the plan of setting up a commission while responding to Opposition Leader in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz who had opened the budget debate in the House on Monday.

The minister said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Punjab parliamentary party would float a proposal in the House for the commission.

Earlier, Opposition Leader Hamza Shahbaz opened the budget debate, asserting that it was not time of leveling allegations and counter-allegations but finding a solution to the massive economic crisis.

Mr Hamza chided the federal government for taking loan from the International Monetary Fund despite Prime Minister Imran Khan’s tall claims that he would commit suicide instead of taking loans. He said the prime minister’s adviser on finance openly admitted that the government could not control the economic meltdown. He said the federal government also told a lie that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) would give it budgetary support.

Opposition leader takes govt to task as budget debate opens

The opposition leader gave figures about the increase in the budget of prime minister house, chief minister office, chief minister’s helicopter, Governor’s House and spending on other administrative matters – despite austerity claims.

Hamza said the present government was taking massive loans without any economic plan. He said the PTI government had slowed down the economic growth, increased the cost of living and failed to sustain the foreign direct investment.

He said the PML-N’s government had allocated Rs635bn development budget for 2017-18 while the present government could bring up less than Rs350bn development budget. He criticised the PTI government for cutting education and health budget and taxing the income as low as Rs50,000 per month. He said the government rendered some one million people jobless during its first year in the government despite claims of giving 10m jobs for the youth.

In reply to Hamza’s speech, the law minister termed his claims and allegations false. Acknowledging Hamza’s assertion that Punjab was on the verge of economic collapse, Basharat Raja said the province inherited by the PTI was unable to take flight as it was under the enormous debt of Rs2,600bn. “It is a matter of grave concern that the Punjab government’s own cheques worth Rs56bn got bounced.”

Mr Raja also chided the previous government legislators for not even paying the bills of the Punjab House in Islamabad that ran in Rs500m. Stating that he would present the defaulters’ list in the House, the minister added that this list of bill defaulters should also be presented to the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Responding to Hamza’s criticism of claims of austerity and increasing cost of administration measures, he said the government had one chief minister camp office while Shahbaz Sharif had four camp offices.

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2019