Khursheed Shah urges govt to allocate 15pc of PSDP to build dams

Updated June 21, 2019


PPP stalwart Khursheed Shah speaks in the National Assembly. — DawnNewsTV screengrab
PPP stalwart Khursheed Shah speaks in the National Assembly. — DawnNewsTV screengrab

PPP stalwart Khursheed Shah on Friday launched into a comprehensive critique of the finance bill during a National Assembly sitting of the ongoing budget session.

Criticising the dam fund started by former chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Shah said: "I told the chief justice of the time that if you are sincere, ask the government to call a mini-budget session and allocate 15 per cent of the PSDP (Public Sector Development Programme) to build dams. Now you have collected Rs10 billion in donations and spent Rs11bn in advertisements."

"This is cheap popularity," Shah declared. He said that PPP would vote in favour of the budget if the government allocated 15pc of the PSDP to build dams. At the same time, he admitted that he had not discussed this with his party's leadership.

"This will not be the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's decision, this will be the decision of the masses, of this parliament, and we (opposition) will appreciate you."

The former opposition leader predicted that even after the government allocated funds for building dams in the budget, it would at least take a decade for the projects to be completed.

Shah also called for an increase in the money allocated to education. He said that it was due to the lack of education that people in Pakistan could not take care of their health.

"You are reducing the amount allocated to education in this budget from Rs97bn to Rs77bn. The Health allocation was Rs98bn last year, this year it is around Rs60bn [...] Decrease [the money allocated to] health but increase [funds for] education."

He said that he had welcomed government's announcement that it would build 50 million houses for the poor as previous budgets did not have any funds allocated to housing.

"You want to give loans [for housing] to 300,000 poor people. Poor people are those who are included in BISP (Benazir Income Support Programme), who earn Rs5,000 or less [...] How will a person [with this income] return the loans? We thought that the people listed in BISP will be the ones who would be given houses but we did not see anything like that."

Shah wrapped up his speech by advising politicians "not to rely on falsehood to earn votes".

"I did not say lies. I said falsehood," he clarified. He then listed claims made by the current government during the election campaign that it had gone back on; "[Prime minister] said he will not approach the International Monetary Fund, he will not devalue the currency, will not increase prices of petrol and electricity, will not extend the hand of friendship to India and will not announce a tax amnesty scheme."