PESHAWAR: Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani applied what in parliamentary parlance is called ‘guillotine’ to kill debate on demands for grant and Finance Bill, 2019, in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Wednesday amid noisy protest by the opposition.
The house approved 57 of the total 60 demands for grant and finance bill within two hours after the speaker exercised his powers under Rule 148 of the Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Procedure and Conduct of Business Rules, 1988, to bulldoze further discussion on the budget.
According to parliamentary traditions, the chair takes the opposition on board before invoking guillotine in the last hour of the second day of the debate on demands for grant.
When the session began, only four opposition members were present in the house.
The house fixes three days for general discussion on the budget and two days for the approval of demands for grant.
The total size of the budget 2019-20 is Rs900 billion, which includes Rs319 billion for the annual development programme and Rs162 billion for seven merged tribal districts.
Opposition encircles speaker’s dais, tears agenda copies
The chair called the names of lawmakers one by one to debate their cut motions. However, after noticing empty opposition benches, he applied Rule 148 to kill discussion on demands for grant.
The opposition members rushed to the assembly and asked the chair to suspend the rule and allow them to hold discussion on the remaining cut motions.
However, the speaker ignored the demand and asked the ministers concerned to present their demands for grant. The opposition lawmakers shouted slogans and encircled the speaker’s dais, while some tore copies of the agenda.
The entire discussion was wrapped up within two hours.
The lawmakers had begun debate on demands for grant on Tuesday but only three of them were approved after lengthy discussion.
In his concluding speech on the budget, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan termed the opposition’s protest a breach of the house’s traditions.
He said the opposition had no justification for creating disturbance in the assembly.
The CM said the opposition protested to protect the people, who faced corruption cases in accountability courts.
“The opposition should not defend corrupt practices of the people in the assembly,” he said adding that the constituencies of opposition MPAs will be ‘compensated’ in the budget.
Mr Mahmood criticised the opposition for challenging the annual development programme in the court.
He said the ADP was the prerogative of the assembly, so it couldn’t be challenged in the court.
“The government will come to the front if the opposition does not change its policy,” he warned.
The CM said for the first time, the assembly passed a budget for the newly-merged tribal districts but the opposition did not commend the historic step.
He thanked Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa for diverting Rs48 billion from the defence budget to the tribal districts for development.
“I am thankful to General Bajwa for diverting 20 per cent from defence budget for development schemes in tribal districts,” he said.
Mr Mahmood said three mega projects, including Bus Rapid Transit Peshawar, Swat Expressway and construction of irrigation canals from Gomal Zam dam, would be completed in the year.
He said feasibility study of the Peshawar Circular Railway meant to connect the provincial capital with major towns of Peshawar Valley would be completed in the next financial year.
The CM said the master plan for districts would be designed to address civic issues. He announced the regularisation of the special police force created to counter militancy in Malakand division and other areas of the province. The total strength of the force is 7,560 recruited in 2009.
The MPAs will hold debate on supplementary budget for 2018-19 at 2pm today (Thursday).
Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2019