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ISLAMABAD: The opposition Friday lambasted the government in Senate for increasing petroleum prices by more than 10 rupees in less than a month as the upper house of the Parliament saw a turbulent sitting on the first day of the 315th session. The Senate session was summoned after over a month since last prorogued on October 1.

PPP Senator Behramand Tangi arrived in the Parliament House on bicycle to attend the Senate sitting - in order to record his protest against "unprecedented inflation in the country."

Tangi, who was seen struggling to maintain the balance of the bicycle, was supported by one of his aides who helped him cycle to the Parliament. "What to talk about common man, when, we, the parliamentarians, feel the heat of this massive price hike," he said.

"The days of this corrupt and inefficient government are numbered," the senator added. In the Senate sitting, the opposition leaders chanted anti-government slogans and assembled in front of the desk of Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani who seemingly failed to put the House in order.

The senators from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and other opposition parties repeatedly shouted "Sugar thief... flour thief...medicine thief," referring to unprecedented hike in the prices of these commodities by the federal government.

Speaking on the floor of the House, Leader of the Opposition in Senate Yousaf Raza Gillani said, the federal government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, is a "total disaster."

"The livelihoods of the people have been destroyed. No government can defend these kind of barbaric steps like increasing the prices of fuel and essential items so hurriedly and recklessly," he said.

Gillani said the PM's announcement of relief package for inflation-stricken masses was a good step but the increase in fuel prices made a "laughing stock" out of this government.

"Now all that so-called relief has fizzled out. The PM rejected a summary from OGRA (Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority) regarding increase in the petroleum prices. Then he addressed the nation and said that the fuel prices would increase. And just within 48 hours, the petroleum prices were increased by more than eight rupees. This is height of injustice," he said as the opposition staged a walkout against the increase in petroleum prices.

Mushtaq Ahmed from Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) also targeted the federal government. "The only relief the people would get from this 'inflationary government' would come when they get rid of these tyrant rulers," he said. "People are praying when this planted and selected government would be shown the door," he added.

Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar from PPP demanded that the regular proceedings of the House be suspended to specifically debate over inflation and price hike. Addressing chairman Senate, he said, "I am surprised-the proceedings of the House are going on as if nothing has happened. The life of common man has been destroyed. It's time to do something instead of pretending that nothing has happened," he said, while a visibly embarrassed Sanjrani struggled to calm down the charged opposition senators.

Leader of the House in Senate Dr Shahzad Waseem tried to defend the recent hike in petroleum prices. "The petroleum prices have had seen an increase of 100 per cent in the entire world. But, in Pakistan, they have been increased by only three per cent. The entire world is engulfed by the unbridled wave of inflation. The petroleum levy is still five rupees and tax on petroleum items is lesser than even two rupees in Pakistan. The PM has offered the largest relief package in the history of Pakistan to support the people against poverty..." he said.

However, the opposition senators were not impressed. They continued their protest throughout Shahzad's speech. Later, PPP Parliamentary Leader in Senate Sherry Rehman pointed out the quorum.

Upon counting, only 16 members were found present in the House, against the minimum required number of 25 (one-fourth of total Senate membership of 100), to run the proceedings of the House, which led to the Senate's adjournment due to the lack of quorum.

Earlier, in the question hour, Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has been bifurcated into two authorities; Pakistan Civil Aviation Regulatory Authority and Pakistan Airports Authority- and the director generals or chiefs of both these authorities would be appointed soon. The House will meet Monday afternoon.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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