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LAHORE: Ahmed Rashid Bhatti, a member of the opposition, while addressing the Punjab Assembly session on Saturday highlighted the lack of transparency in the budget, stating that the block allocation is unclear and the assembly is not informed about where the funds are being allocated.

He alleged that subsidies are being used to create dependency rather than promoting industrial development. He highlighted the lack of access to clean water and education, with 26 million children out of school.

Bhatti also criticised the planning commission, saying that one department builds a road while another destroys it. He alleged that democracy is being used as a cover for dictatorship.

The Punjab budget

He said the entire budget of Punjab is spent in Lahore, yet there is not a single high school in Raiwind. Despite having a chief minister and prime minister houses are in Raiwind, there is no graveyard for burial in their own hometown.

The session started one hour 15 minutes late under the chair of Deputy Speaker Zaheer Iqbal Channar.

Shoaib Siddiqui, a member of the ruling party, launched a scathing attack on the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in his speech.

Siddiqui accused PTI of hypocrisy, asking what they were doing on May 9.

He alleged that his party’s offices were being attacked during PTI government.

He also criticized PTI saying they failed to fulfil their commitments.

The government member highlighted his party’s achievements, including tax-free budget, which he claimed shocked the opposition. He also mentioned the Kisan Card scheme, worth 40 billion rupees, which will benefit farmers.

Siddiqui said his party’s development projects, including New Garments City and IT City have brought joy to the youth. He demanded ownership rights for katchi abadis (informal settlements) in his constituency and demanded development of railway settlements, stadiums, and parks for producing national cricketers.

However, Pakistan Peoples Party member Malik Waseef Muzhar Raan criticized the government for neglecting South Punjab and failing to reduce unnecessary expenses.

Raan accused the government of sucking the last drop of blood from the poor of Punjab, while bureaucratic luxuries continue unabated. He questioned the claim of a tax-free budget. He claimed that budget deficit is more than Rs 800 billion adding that there is a reduction in provincial receipts from Rs 625 billion to Rs 489 billion.

PPP member also highlighted the fertiliser mafia’s exploitative practices, selling fertiliser for Rs 16,000 which is now available for Rs 7,000. He demanded the government address this issue and allocate funds for the Qadirpuran Trauma Centre, where 90% of the work has been completed.

During his budget speech PML-N MPA Salma Butt accused the PTI government of embezzling Rs 60 billion from Punjab’s budget of Rs 625 billion. She said despite Supreme Court orders, local government elections were not held. She held PTI government responsible for shutting down key institutions, including PIA, and reducing the province’s budget by Rs 400 billion. Meanwhile, Maryam Nawaz increased the development budget by Rs 200 billion.

PML-N MPA Amjad Ali Javed has criticized the bureaucracy for not implementing good ideas in letter and spirit. He urges downsizing and abolition of unnecessary authorities and companies. Javed terms the school organisation project revolutionary and predicts long-term benefits. He also stresses for providing equal health facilities, proposing a medical college in every district headquarters.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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