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PML-N tactics to benefit govt in budget approval

June 09, 2012

ISLAMABAD, June 9: Thanks to the opposition’s decision not to propose any cut motion during the budget debate, the government plans to get budgetary proposals approved by the National Assembly on June 15, one week before the target date, Dawn has learnt.

According to sources in the government, the decision to get the federal budget passed on June 15, instead of June 22, was taken at a meeting of the parliamentary groups of the ruling coalition parties on Tuesday, following an announcement by the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) that it would not move any cut motion.

Cut motions are used by the opposition as a tool to criticise the performance of various ministries and divisions and to give a tough time to the ruling party during the budget debate.

The government is required to ensure the presence of maximum number of the treasury members in the house to defeat every cut motion through voting.

Despite the fact that cut motions are voted out by the treasury members since they are in majority, it has been a parliamentary practice that the opposition moves these motions, under Rule 189 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business, in the National Assembly as a symbolic exercise.

Under the rules, any member can move a cut motion seeking to “reduce the amount of demand” for any ministry or division for various reasons, such as “disapproval of a policy” or to “ventilate a specific grievance”.

Each mover gets an opportunity to speak in support of his or her cut motion calling for reduction of a symbolic Re1, Rs100 or any specified amount of demand for a particular ministry. The speaker is required to put before the house every cut motion and the members have to rise in their seats while voting in favour or against a cut motion.

During the regime of Gen Pervez Musharraf, the members of PPP and PML-N together used to move hundreds of cut motions seeking reduction in the demand for the ministry of defence with the sole purpose of getting an opportunity to criticise the army in their speeches.

According to some political and parliamentary experts, the PML-N’s decision of not moving cut motions will provide an opportunity to the government to get the budget passed without any hindrance.

Political observers see the PML-N’s decision contradictory to the party’s earlier announcements that it would provide a tough time to the government during the budget session.

The PML-N, which has been staging noisy protests in the National Assembly since the April 26 conviction of the prime minister by the supreme court on contempt charges, hooted down the budget speech by the finance minister. Later, the PML-N leaders surprisingly announced that they would participate in the budget debate, saying that they did not want to leave the field open for the government.