NA approves Rs 141.45bn for Cabinet Division -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

NA approves Rs 141.45bn for Cabinet Division

* 144 cut motions moved by PML-N rejected
* Opp slams govt for inability to curb corruption, curtail excessive expenditures

ISLAMABAD: Lower House of parliament, on Saturday, approved 20 demands for grants worth Rs 141.45 billion for the Cabinet Division with a majority and rejected 144 cut motions moved by the opposition, which severely criticised the government for its inability to check corruption and make accountability effective as well as curtail excessive expenditures of the cabinet.

Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Shaikh presented demands for the Cabinet Division in the House by opposing all cut motions forwarded by the opposition benches, which were later rejected by the treasury benches with a majority vote.

Opening debate on the cut motions, Sardar Mehtab Abbasi said the present cabinet had multiplied people’s sufferings by consuming large amount of money.

He called for reducing Cabinet Division’s demands, which, he said, were too high.

He also raised eyebrows over the allocation of large sum of money for the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), which he said, delivered nothing, and even did not implement orders of the Supreme Court to put an end to corruption.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also objected to budget for the NAB, and said that performance of the institution reflected that it had failed to discharge its functions properly. He also talked about priorities of the government, which, he believed, were not well- directed. “Rs 630 million have been set aside for NAB, whereas a meager amount of Rs156 million has been allocated for the Board of Investment (BOI) that speaks in volumes for intention of the government to promote investment in the country,” Abbasi remarked.

“Also, the government has allocated Rs 98 million for purchasing helicopters while a meager amount of Rs 0.4 million has been earmarked for making Urdu an official language,” Abbasi lamented.

PML-N lawmaker Zahid Hamid termed size of the federal cabinet too large as compared to other countries.

He also described performance of the federal cabinet as unsatisfactory, and suggested that it should be shrunk keeping in view the current crises afflicting the country. He also called for immediate passage of the National Accountability Commission Bill to help control corruption in the country.

Advocate Anusha Rehman said it was not clear whether NAB worked under the Cabinet Division or under Ministry of Law and Justice.

She said that the auditor general had pointed out embezzlement of Rs 35 billion by government functionaries.

Abdul Qadir Baloch said there was no output of NAB. He questioned its utility and expressed surprise why a huge amount of budget was allocated to it. He suggested that Intelligence Bureau should be strengthened in view of internal security threats. Sheerin Arshad Khan, Saud Majeed, Khalida Mansoor and others also took part in the debate.

State Minister for Finance, Hina Rabbani Khar, responding to objections raised by opposition, said that inflated figures of Cabinet Division were due to extra functions it were assigned after the passage of 18th Amendment when many ministries were devolved to provinces but some were left under the protection of the Cabinet Division.
Source: Daily Times
Date:6/19/2011