ISLAMABAD: The Natio­nal Assembly will open the debate on the federal budget 2023-24 on Monday and it is expected to be passed by June 26 before Eidul Azha as several lawmakers will go to Saudi Arabia to perform Haj in a special flight.

Leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Raja Riaz, will open the debate on the budget with his speech and the government is expected get it passed without any resistance from the opposition because the opposition is called “pro-government” as it comprised dissidents of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.

The government on Friday unveiled the Rs14.46 trillion federal budget for the fiscal year 2023-24 with a real GDP growth target of 3.5 per cent.

The government’s critics called the budget an “election budget” which proposed an increase in salaries of federal government employees by 30 to 35 per cent, increase in development expenditures by 33pc, and tax incentives for agriculture, information technology and construction industry.

A source in the National Assembly Secretariat (NAS) told Dawn that according to rules the Senate has to present its recommendations on the budget within 14 days, but the debate on the budget will be restricted to a week to facilitate those lawmakers who were going to Saudi Arabia to perform Haj.

This year’s Haj will take place on June 29 and several lawmakers have plans to perform the religious duty. However, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has asked them to stay in the country till the passage of the budget.

On this, those lawmakers who had planned to perform Haj requested the prime minister to arrange a special plane for them so that they, along with the families, could reach Saudi Arabia well before Haj on their own expenses.

The source said that the prime minister had agreed to their request and now they are likely to leave for Saudi Arabia soon after the passage of the budget in the special flight.

Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2023

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