NA approves federal budget 2011-12 20 of Senate’s 66 recommendations accepted
ISLAMABAD: The government cleared a major hurdle in the National Assembly on Wednesday with the approval of the federal budget for the fiscal year 2011-12, rejecting all amendments moved by the PML-N.
Only two loud voices of ‘No’ were heard while the majority said ‘Yes’. PML-Q’s Marvi Memon was one of the two who said ‘No’ and then resigned as member of the National Assembly. Unlike the occasion of the presentation of the budget, when the opposition created a tumult in the House, the approval of the budget turned out to be a surprisingly smooth affair. But fireworks started after the passage of the budget.
Khawaja Saad Rafiq in his trademark belligerence threatened tit-for-tat response to President Asif Ali Zardari’s scathing criticism of Nawaz Sharif in Garhi Khuda Buksh a day before. He even had an altercation with the Speaker, Dr Fehmida Mirza, when she gave the floor to Syed Khursheed Shah after Marvi Memon had spoken on a point of order. The Speaker snubbed him and read out the relevant rules of National Assembly that bar the legislators to indulge in rowdy behaviour or obstruct proceedings by making running commentaries when speeches are being made in the assembly.
The Speaker said the House has given many powers to the Speaker and whole world honours the chair of Speaker. “I never misbehaved with any member and always give every MNA respect and proper time to speak,” she remarked.
She said if any one has differences with the party it is better to settle these differences in party meetings. Khawaja Saad Rafiq on a point of order said that the way President Zardari used insulting language clearly showed that he has buried the policy of reconciliation. ‘It was not the speech of the president of Pakistan as it has disturbed all Pakistanis,” he said.
He asked the president to avoid hurling threats, as we have not reached the point of no return yet. He advised President Zardari to keep one office. “Asif Ali Zardari should not become a hurdle in the smooth running of Parliament,’ he said.
The PML-N, he said, is not a friendly opposition but the government should not force us to become a deadly opposition. ‘We are not enemies but political opponents and you should listen to us,’ he said. He said no body in this House was a supporter of Taliban. The PML-N demands that those responsible for Abbottabad and Mehran Base incidents should be identified and held accountable, he said.
He said the judiciary was restored due to the struggle of the people, civil society and lawyers. He regretted that the government has retained the tainted ministers though they were involved in NICL and hajj scams and rental power projects.
The National Assembly will take up today (Thursday) the supplementary budget of more than Rs350 billion. A number of amendments proposed by the finance minister were incorporated in the Finance Bill, 2011-12, including those envisaging tax concessions for industrial undertakings.
New industrial undertakings for manufacturing in the country will get a tax credit equal to hundred per cent of the tax payable on the taxable income arising from such undertaking for five years.
Similarly tax credit will also be allowed for balancing, modernisation, replacement or expansion of the plant and machinery installed in an industrial undertaking before first of July this year.
An amendment in the Finance Act envisages that members of Parliament who have served one term will also be entitled to medical facilities. The House rejected amendments moved by the opposition members to different clauses of the Bill after debate and voting.
Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh thanked the House for its contribution in the passage of the Bill and said the House held the longest ever debate on the budget. The Senate had proposed 66 recommendations of which 20 were accommodated in the final version of the Finance Bill.
Responding to various questions with regard to sales tax, the federal minister said that the government intends to reduce the overall sales tax rate to 15 percent. “It had reduced it to 17 percent last year and from 17 it was now reduced to 16 percent,” he added.
On the issue of income tax exemption, the federal minister said that keeping in view the inflationary trends, the government had enhanced the income exemption from Rs300000 to Rs350000. He said 700,000 people would be included in the direct tax net to broaden the tax base. The ultimate objective and desire of the government, he said, is to provide relief to the people.
Source: The News