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ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior leader Khaqan Abbasi said there was nothing in the budget 2021-22 to reduce rising inflation in the country.

"I want to hear from the finance minister that such and such steps he has taken in the budget for controlling rising inflation faced by the public," said Abbasi, while talking to the media after appearing before an accountability court in Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) case.

He said this is a fact that the budget target has been fixed on the basis of inflation. "Revenue target will be achieved after increase in inflation," he said adding that budget document 2021-22 was "totally based on lies."

A minister said he has no knowledge about the budget document. "When you have no knowledge regarding budget document then how the federal cabinet approved it," he asked.

The former premier said now the government is planning to bring the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), one of the independent institutions under the Ministry of Finance, aimed at hiding lies. "The finance minister said the total production of wheat in the country is above 27 million tons and even then we will import wheat as we are a food deficit country. Three years ago, total production of wheat in the country was 24 million tons and we have exported the commodity," he said, adding that if the country has produced 27 million tons of wheat then why you are importing it.

To a question, he said the finance minister himself said the government is dependent on indirect taxation and we are unable to do direct taxation.

About shouting by treasury benches during opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif's speech in the National Assembly, he said they cannot tolerate truth.

"Yesterday, the government MNAs and minister started making noise as soon as Shehbaz Sharif began his speech," he said, adding that for the first time, in the history of Pakistan, government and its ministers shouted in the parliament during an opposition leader's speech.

He said the National Assembly speaker should tell us whether there is any such example exists in the world that the government benches making noise in the parliament and did not follow the speaker's instruction. I am sure that the speaker will also take part in shouting slogans in the next session as they were the servant of one man and not answerable to the public, he said, adding that they got job due to Imran Khan.

However, he said the opposition leader will speak in the assembly at any cost and we will expose the government.

We will talk about inflation and will raise public issues. The speaker yesterday told us that he is helpless and this directives of Imran Khan to not allow opposition speeches as in the assembly Imran Khan has been called 'Donkey Raja.'

"I challenge prime minister to come to the assembly and say inflation will decrease due to this budget," he said, adding that we will present videos of the ministers who were creating noise in the parliament.

Abbasi said according to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) special report which consists of 32 pages regarding LNG sector from 2017 to 2020 under head of electricity country saved Rs234 billion through LNG Terminal-I. It means that the terminal regarding which a case has been made against him has saved Rs234 billion of the country during three years.

He said the chairman NAB nowadays is making efforts for extension. Imran Khan wanted to give the chairman NAB an extension as the anti-graft body chairman is 'obsequious to Imran Khan,' he said.

Earlier, he and other accused appeared before the accountability court-II judge Muhammad Azam Khan in the LNG case.

During the hearing, Abbasi's counsel Barrister Zafar Ullah Khan and his son Abdullah Khaqan Abbasi's counsel Uzair Shafi crossed examined prosecution witness.

During the hearing, witness Allah Nawaz told the court that he was appointed as a direct officer through the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC).

In the year 2018, I was posted an assistant economic advisor CFI section, he said, adding that this section deal with all reference coming to the Finance Division from the Petroleum Division.

To a question asked by Zafarullah Khan, the witnessed said that he was called for explanation of documents, which he has already submitted before the NAB.

During periods 2013-2014 no amount from Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) released for Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Pipeline (TAPI) project.

All the money received as GIDC cess is deposited in the federal consolidated fund normally called Account No 1, he said.

He said it is correct that there is no separate and designated bank account for the GIDC cess to deposit.

Advocate Uzair Shafi conducted cross examination of witness, Sajid Raza. Raza told the court that it is correct that he had not mentioned Abdullah Khaqan at any statement he made before the NAB authority in relation to the reference.

It is also correct that any documents that he presented by before this could have not made any reference to Abdullah. It is correct Abdullah has held no government position at any time. The court adjourned hearing of the case till June 22.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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