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ISLAMABAD: The opposition in the National Assembly, Wednesday, claimed that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is going to surrender economic sovereignty of Pakistan through supplementary finance bill (mini-budget) before the international financial institutions and vowed to fight tooth and nail against it.

The senior members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) harshly criticised the government over its plan to table the supplementary finance bill in the Lower House of the Parliament.

The federal cabinet had deferred the approval of the supplementary finance bill, which was scheduled to be tabled in today’s (Wednesday) session of the National Assembly.

Parliamentary leader of the PML-N in the National Assembly Khawaja Muhammad Asif said while speaking on the floor of the house, “We are going to surrender our economic sovereignty through the finance bill and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Amendment Bill 2021 which is much worse than what happened in 1971.”

He claimed, “The State Bank of Pakistan has become a “local branch” of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The SBP governor was disguised as a “viceroy” and Pakistan has become a “financial colony” of international institutions.”

“The government made our country a “financial colony” of international institutions,” he claimed.

The PML-N leader vowed to strongly oppose the SBP bill and the mini-budget.

“There is a need to create a national consensus on both these issues. Create national consensus on how we can get out of these issues. Things can’t go on like this. We will not allow the government to take this step, while the people are already facing high inflation,” he said.

He said that the lives of the people are already in a miserable condition due to price hike in the country and now the government wants to drop another ‘inflation bomb’ on them through the mini-budget.

He said that it was the fourth day that the government was unable to complete quorum in the house and claimed that “it would again obtain votes through facilitators.” He called on the lawmakers not to surrender the country’s economic sovereignty.

While concluding his speech, the PML-N leader warned, “Pakistan’s nuclear assets would be the next target. After this, we will be stripped of our nuclear capabilities.”

Former prime minister and PPP leader Raja Pervez Ashraf said, while speaking on a point of order, that everyone in the House, as well as, people from different walks of life were concerned over reports that the government was planning to introduce a money bill or a mini-budget.

“Inflation, unemployment and the shortage of gas and other commodities have already wreaked havoc on the people of the country. Now, if a mini-budget or money bill is in the offing, which would increase their difficulties, then everyone sitting in the House should resist the move,” he said.

While responding to the PPP leader, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri, who chaired the session, said no such bill had been presented in the house so far. “You can debate on the bill when it will be presented,” he said. When the deputy speaker gave the floor to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the opposition members pointed out the quorum and staged a walkout.

Suri then ordered a head count and declared that the quorum was complete. He gave the floor to Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi for a second time, while members of the opposition returned to the house to participate in the proceedings.

While responding the opposition members, the minister assured the lawmakers that the government would protect the country’s economic sovereignty.

It is the responsibility of the government and this house to protect the sovereignty of Pakistan.

He said that protecting the country’s economic independence was the joint responsibility of the government and the parliament. However, the country’s macro-economic indicators did not become alarming during the last three years, he said.

Commenting on the point raised by Asif about the country’s nuclear assets, the minister said, “I want to say this on the floor of the house that there is, was and will remain a national consensus on credible minimum deterrence.”

Talking about quorum, he accepted that it was the government’s responsibility to fulfil it. He also urged the opposition to ensure the smooth functioning of the National Assembly. He said that pointing out quorum again and again was not in their benefit.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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