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ISLAMABAD: The Opposition Leader in the National Assembly, Omar Ayub Khan, on Wednesday, expressed strong disapproval of the newly presented federal budget for the fiscal year 2024-25, terming it “meaningless” and “a violation of constitutional norms”.

Speaking at a presser, he voiced his concerns regarding the budget’s legitimacy and content.

He pointed out procedural issues, stating, “Neither a CD was provided nor was the budget written in English, which is a first in this parliament.” He emphasised that the finance minister’s speech lacked transparency and failed to present accurate records.

Rejecting the budget entirely, he said it was a “fake budget by a fake government,” arguing that it did not reflect the country’s true growth rate.

He highlighted the plight of Punjab farmers, mentioning that their wheat crops were burning while the government remained unresponsive.

Ayub also criticised the industrial growth claims made by the government.

“They say that the production of the industry has increased, but where is this production?” he questioned. He further noted that electricity prices had surged by Rs3.50 per unit recently, adding to the public’s financial burden.

He accused the government of lacking consultation and transparency.

He also accused Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi of intentionally not submitting his tax returns, and the inaction of the government against him. He also criticised the government’s handling of trade with Iran, suggesting that rice would be smuggled out of the country.

He concluded by accusing the PPP of betrayal and questioned the overall governance and administrative decisions of the current regime.

He accused the government of dancing to the tune of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), saying the ruling party had nothing to do with giving relief to the masses as it only wanted to please its masters and the IMF.

Ayub, who is also PTI secretary general, termed the federal budget as anti-people, IMF-dictated, and anti-economy. He criticised the government for not taking the opposition parties on board in preparation of the budget, saying consultation in decision-making processes specially the budget making was a must in order to give relief to the masses. “Let me make it crystal clear, for the first time in parliament, there has been a constitutional violation in the presentation of the budget,” he added.

“I have presented four budgets in this house,” he said adding that documents of the Finance Ministry with Article 73, pink books, and economic survey had to be read there.

He further said that Finance Minister Aurangzeb Khan did not mention the deficit in the budget and termed it a fake budget.

He lamented that the government formed on Forms 47 was playing its role in converting the country into a banana republic.

He claimed that credit went to the PTI government for reducing load shedding in Pakistan by 80 per cent during its tenure.

Omar also raised concerns about the potential smuggling of rice to Iran in exchange for oil smuggling and accused the PPP of betrayal.

He expressed skepticism over reported industrial growth and production increases, citing recent hikes in electricity rates.

He challenged the federal finance minister’s claim, asking which type of industrial production was mentioned in the budget speech.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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