PA passes Rs57.14 billion supplementary budget -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

PA passes Rs57.14 billion supplementary budget

LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly on Saturday approved Rs57.14 billion supplementary budget for the outgoing financial year 2011-12.

The opposition moved only two cut motions and the same were rejected as the house passed all 42 demands for grants.

It was a lackluster day as the members showed a least interest in the proceedings as only seven MPAs were present when the house met 45 minutes late than its schedule time of 10am. The chief minister also turned up, though for a short time, in the house.

At least 85 opposition MPAs, both from the PPP and the PML-Q, moved two cut motions. As the Q-League boycotted the proceedings to protest unbecoming remarks by Sheikh Allauddin, a treasury member, against women colleagues, only a handful
of PPP members attended the sitting.

Of them Ehsan Naulatia and Rai Shahjehan opposed demands for grants for public health, irrigation and land reclamation.

They noted that 99 per cent of the public health allocations went for Lahore and the rest for the rest of 35 districts. They regretted that development schemes for south Punjab faced a cut in their allocations as the amount was transferred to Lahore schemes.

Citing financial rules, Naulatia claimed the government should have sought an approval for Rs1.14 billion expenses on reconstruction and repair of dykes of rivers and canals damaged in the 2011 floods. Under the rules, he said, supplementary grants were given for unforeseeable emergency expenses that could be to the tune of a couple of millions of rupees and not billions.

The PPP lawmaker, whose party rules the provinces other than Punjab which have repeatedly opposed construction of Kalabagh dam, suggested in the absence of the dam the billions of rupees being spent on canals in the province would go down the drain.

“By not constructing the dam, we are laying a basis for the destruction of one of the finest canal systems in the world,” he said.

Naulatia also objected to written speech of stand-in Finance Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman, which was very brief, for winding up debate on the supplementary budget.

“An explanation for over Rs57 billion expenses has been given in just five minutes.”

PPP’s Ashraf Sohna pointed out lack of quorum when the minister criticised the federal government for excessive loadshedding in Punjab, saying when ‘Raja Rental’ could not run Wapda, how he would run the country as a prime minister.

Agriculture Minister Ahmed Ali Aulakh said a province could not build a reservoir more than the capacity of 5,000 cusecs.

Planning and Development Minister Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor said the PML-N would support if Naulatia made his party to take the initiative and move a resolution in the house for the construction of Kalabagh dam.