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ISLAMABAD: The MPs belonging to the ruling coalition government – who made it to the power corridors by ousting former prime minister Imran Khan under the pretext of rising prices and skyrocketing inflation – did not say a single word on Thursday in the National Assembly despite, the massive increase in the prices of petroleum products.

However, Mir Khan Muhammad Jamali, a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) dissident, lambasted the government for the unprecedented hike in petroleum prices, saying it should focus on reducing the prices of essential items to provide relief to the poor.

In a somewhat emotional speech, he also raised “Imran Khan, Zindabad!” slogans, and questioned: what has the incumbent regime did to control prices and lower the prices of the POL products despite, making tall claims before coming into power.

He rejected media reports of his resignation from his National Assembly seat, saying he would continue as a member of the house.

“I haven’t resigned from my NA seat…I’m still with the PTI and Imran Khan is still my leader,” he declared.

Taking part in the budget debate for 2022-23, the MPs proposed the government to announce more incentives in the budget 23 for the agriculture sector to make the country self-sufficient in agrarian products.

Aslam Bhootani, an independent MNA, was all praise for the budget, saying at a time when the country is going through economic challenges, there could have been no better budget.

He said that the subsidies on electricity should not be withdrawn as it would affect the farmers, adding the farmers should be given more incentives in order to boost the agriculture sector.

Javed Hussain of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said that the coalition government in the proposed fiscal plan preferred to work for the betterment of the state instead of doing politics on national issues.

He asked the government to provide maximum relief to the farmers in order to produce better results. He also proposed the formation of a parliamentary committee on the agriculture sector for devising a more prudent policy to increase agri production.

Jamaluddin of JUI-F said that suggestions by MPs should be incorporated into the budget 2022-23.

He was of the view that sufficient funds had not been allocated for the development of merged districts of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

He asked the government to release funds for people affected by operations in districts of previous Fata besides providing facilities to local people for developing the mining sector.

He also asked the government for allocating special funds for establishing educational institutes.

Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali of Jamaat-e-Islami criticized the recent hike in the prices of petroleum products, saying it would multiply the miseries of the common people.

He was of the view that the government was taking directions from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for imposing an unnecessary burden on the people.

Afzal Khan Dhandla said that the recent increase in petroleum prices is unbearable for the common people and the government should immediately withdraw it.

He said every ruler makes tall claims and builds castles in the air to befool the people and does nothing to provide respite to the people.

He said a special focus should be given to the agriculture sector and the agro-based industry, adding agri-loans should be waived off to save farmers from selling their lands to pay back their debt.

Regarding the suggestion of waiving off agri-loans, Minister for Economic Affairs Ayaz Sadiq proposed a committee comprising members of the house from both sides of the aisle to look into the matter.

He said the government will arrange a meeting of the committee with the president of the Zarai Taraqiati Bank in this regard.

Nawabzada Iftikhar Ahmed Khan said that more funds should be diverted toward the education, health, power, and agriculture sectors.

Rao Ajmal Khan appreciated the government for withdrawing 17 percent general sales tax on farm machinery and agri-inputs as well as allocating 21 billion rupees for the livestock sector.

He proposed a subsidy of at least, Rs2,500 on DAP fertilizer, enhancing support price for wheat and other crops, shifting of agri-tube wells on solar from expensive electricity to save power, and ban on establishing new housing colonies to conserve agri lands.

Hussain Tariq called for long-term and sustained policies to attract foreign and local investors for a stable economy, adding modern technology should be introduced to the agriculture sector to increase our per acre yield.

Ramesh Kumar, a PTI dissident, lauded the passage of a resolution by the house, recommending constituting a task force for compiling recommendations for the welfare of minorities in the country.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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