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ISLAMABAD: Amidst strong protest of the opposition, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Friday, moved a copy of the Finance Bill 2023 in the upper house of parliament—shortly after he presented this bill in the National Assembly.

The maiden day of the 330th Senate session, commonly known as budget session, saw strong reaction from the opposition soon after the session started — after Opposition Leader Dr Shahzad Waseem wanted to take the floor – but was denied so by Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani.

The opposition leader wanted to take up, on the floor of the house, the issue of alleged abductions of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders, including some legislators, and workers, at the hands of “unknown elements.”

Sanjrani refused to give the floor to the opposition leader, and, instead, allowed the finance minister to take the floor and move a copy of the Finance Bill 2023. The chairman Senate assured the opposition leader that he would be allowed to speak later, once the money bill’s copy was moved.

In protest, the opposition lawmakers staged a walkout from the Senate. In the absence of opposition lawmakers, Sanjrani asked the senators to submit their recommendations (if any) to the Finance Bill 2023 not later than Monday noon.

Thereafter, the chairman Senate adjourned the Senate session till Monday, without giving the floor to any other lawmaker.

The upper house of the parliament can hold extensive debate on the finance bill and devise recommendations accordingly, but it has no significant role in budgetary legislation since it is completely up to NA to either completely or partially accept those recommendations or reject them — partially or completely.

Article 73 of the constitution, which deals with parliamentary business with respect to money bills, reads, “Notwithstanding anything contained in Article 70, a money bill shall originate in the National Assembly: Provided that simultaneously when a money bill, including the finance bill containing the annual budget statement, is presented in the National Assembly, a copy thereof shall be transmitted to the Senate which may, within 14 days, make recommendations thereon to the National Assembly.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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