LAHORE: Amid protest by the opposition, the Punjab Assembly approved here on Wednesday Rs358 billion budget to meet current expenses of the provincial government for the month of March.

As Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz is yet to form her cabinet, a motion for presenting the one-month budget was tabled by Marriyum Aurangzeb under Rule 125 of the rules of business of the provincial assembly.

Ms Aurangzeb argued that since the cabinet was yet to be formed, the house should approve the one-month budgetary measures for running day-to-day affairs of the province, including payment of salaries to government employees, provision of medicines to hospitals, and meeting expenses of other departments.

Rana Aftab Ahmed Khan of the opposition Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) objected that neither details of the budget had been shared with the MPAs nor the government had yet nominated any finance minister to present the budget.

Opposition leaders say budget details not shared with MPAs, finance minister not nominated

But Speaker Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan, who was chairing the sitting, ruled that the house was empowered under Rule 125 to approve government expenses in a situation at present being faced in the province.

The opposition members tore down copies of the agenda as amid their protest the treasury benches passed the budget.

Earlier, proceedings of the second session of the 18th house started with a delay of over three hours from its scheduled time.

Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz also participated in the sitting, while opposition members joined the proceedings wearing black armbands.

In a goodwill gesture to the opposition and to reduce the prevailing political tensions, Ms Nawaz went to the opposition benches and greeted SIC leader Rana Aftab at the start of the proceedings.

The opposition benches complained to the speaker that some of their elected members were not being allowed to attend the session by members of law-enforcement agencies.

The speaker asked them to nominate such notified members and he would ensure their presence by issuing production orders for them.

Assembly Secretary Amer Habib announced the Panel of Chairman. They included Rana Manwar, Syed Ali Haider Gilani, Ghulam Raza and Rahila Khadim.

Later, the speaker prorogued the house for an indefinite period.

Published in Dawn, February 29th, 2024

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