LAHORE: The Punjab government claims it won’t face any issue in getting the budget passed as most of the dissidents in the ruling party have assured their support for the purpose in their meetings with Chief Minister Usman Buzdar.
“There’ll be no hurdle in getting the forthcoming budget passed for 99.9pc of the like-minded and Tareen groups’ members have called on the CM and assured him of their support in this respect,” Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Raja Basharat told the Press Gallery Committee here on Tuesday.
He was responding to a query regarding the reports that Leader of the Opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz had been assigned the task by his party, PML-N, to convince the dissidents not to support the budget in the assembly.
The minister said Mr Shehbaz was always deliberately tasked with achieving unlikely targets.
Answering a question about the delay caused in oath of Chaudhry Nisar as an MPA, he said under the special arrangements, the oath-taking was delayed; otherwise, no other member-elect had done that.
Talking about the performance of the assembly, Mr Basharat said it had enacted 83 bills in less than three years and it could have sailed better had there not been Covid restrictions.
The minister said the government had amended the rules of procedure to issue production orders for enabling incarcerated MPAs to attend assembly sessions but the facility was misused by the opposition as Mr Shehbaz never joined house proceedings whenever the orders were issued to bring him from jail to the assembly.
He claimed that any illegality was never committed in the lawmaking process as the speaker was requested to use his special powers whenever there was need to suspend any rules of business to smoothen legislation.
Admitting that they could not constitute the Public Accounts Committee, the minister claimed the opposition never boycotted proceedings of other standing committees of the house, contrary to the impression they would give in the media.
“The opposition members will mark their attendance in the meetings of committees and then skip further proceedings to give the boycott impression.”
Mr Basharat said it had been decided that rules would be spelled out within six months of the enactment of a law to ensure its implementation unlike the past practice when framing of the rules would get delayed as far as 15 years in some cases.
The minister, who also holds the additional charge of cooperative department, admitted that objectionable activities were going on in the department as far as cooperative housing societies were concerned but said he had banned registering of the cooperative housing societies with the department in future to do away with the malpractices.
He lamented that at a time when all other banks were earning profits, the Punjab Provincial Cooperative Bank was paying fine to the State Bank each year only because it had no regular president [to implement policies off and on announced by the SBP] for the last 10 years. He said process to hire regular president had been initiated.
Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2021