Pandemonium in KP budget session

Updated June 19, 2019

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Opposition members stage a protest during the budget speech in KP Assembly on Tuesday. — Photo by Abdul Majeed Goraya
Opposition members stage a protest during the budget speech in KP Assembly on Tuesday. — Photo by Abdul Majeed Goraya

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly witnessed pandemonium on Tuesday as the opposition boycotted the budget speech of the finance minister after Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani refused to allow Opposition Leader Akram Khan Durrani to speak about the arrest of co-chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party Asif Ali Zardari and other MNAs.

After recitation from the Holy Quran, Mr Durrani tried to take the floor to speak about the detention of parliamentarians by the National Accountability Bureau and failure of the National Assembly speaker to ensure their (MNAs’) production in the lower house of parliament.

Speaker Ghani didn’t give floor to Mr Durrani insisting the rules of business did not allow any member to speak on a point of order during budget speech.

Speaker didn’t allow opposition leader to speak about arrests by NAB

He asked finance minister Taimur Saleem Khan Jhagra to begin delivering the budget speech.

The opposition members resorted to shouting slogans to disrupt the budget speech. The PPP members had brought posters and portraits of Asif Zardari to the house.

The opposition’s lawmakers rushed to the speaker’s dais and shouted slogans ‘go (PM) Niazi go’.

They also hit out at the NAB for arresting parliamentarians of the opposition.

MPAs of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz protested the denial of permission to National Assembly Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif to begin debate on the federal budget in the house.

The opposition boycotted the proceedings amid pandemonium.

Later, Mr Durrani said the opposition would give tough time to the government during the budget session.

He condemned the ‘partisan’ role of the speaker, saying he’s not allowed to speak on a national issue. The opposition leader said Speaker Assad Qaisar was reluctant to issue production order for Asif Zardari and other detained MNAs, while the treasury members didn’t allow Shahbaz Sharif to initiate debate on the federal budget.

He said the KP government did not hold consultation with the opposition on the budget’s preparation.

Mr Durrani said in the past, the governments used to hold pre-budget seminars and sought input from the opposition side but the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf bulldozed traditions and did not discuss the budget with the opposition.

He rejected the government’s claim of presenting surplus budget.

The opposition leader said the PTI was in power in the centre though KP did not receive its due share under the head of net hydel profit. He said the government presented deficit budget and the opposition would expose false claims of the government during debate.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan termed the 2019-20 budget historic saying the its outlay was all-time high.

He said the credit went to the PTI for presenting budget for the newly-merged tribal districts.

An official statement said CM Mahmood Khan reiterated that despite financial constraints, the Annual Development Programme for 2019-20 was 41 per cent higher than the previous fiscal’s.

The CM said ADP for the newly-merged districts was three times more than the previous financial year’s, which would help bring about speedy development and thus, overcoming decades of exploitation and deprivation in the tribal districts.

Briefing the cabinet on the provincial budget 2019-20, finance secretary Shakeel Khan Qadir said more than 41,000 jobs would be provided in the public sector during the next year.

The meeting was informed that more than 92,000 employees of erstwhile Fata had been merged with the provincial government, while Rs17 billion would be spent on the development of internally displaced people in tribal districts, Rs6 Billion on nursing students and Rs3 billion on innovative approaches in education sector.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2019