PA passes surplus budget
By Habib Khan Ghori
KARACHI: With the approval of 59 demands for grants, the Sindh Assembly passed on Friday the Rs475.5 billion provincial budget for the financial year 2011-12.
All 627 cut motions moved by the small opposition in the Sindh Assembly against 22 demands for grants were rejected by a majority vote.
Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah greeted the house over the passage of the new budget and lauded the role of Speaker Nisar Ahmad Khuhro for his patience for conducting the budget session smoothly and in a congenial atmosphere.
He also appreciated the opposition for taking a keen interest in the budget, as their cut motions manifested that they had done enough homework to prepare the cut motions.
The chief minister congratulated the finance minister on the passage of the budget and also announced a three-month salary as bonus for the staff of the finance department, the assembly secretariat and the law department for their hard work.
Earlier, Leader of the Opposition Jam Madad Ali said that although their all cut motions were rejected, there was a need to control the use of funds and check corruption and to ensure achievement of revenue targets.
He expressed gratitude to the speaker and the deputy speaker for providing full opportunity to the opposition to express their views on the budget.
Senior Minister Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq also greeted the speaker for maintaining a good atmosphere and assured the opposition about proper utilization of the budget.
Earlier, the speaker congratulated the lawmakers on the passage of the surplus budget of the province, which would increase the capacity of all departments.
The cut motions were moved by Jam Madad Ali, Syeda Marvi Rashdi, Nusrat Sehar Abbasi, Abdul Razzaq Rahimoon, Dr Rafique Bhanban and Chetan Mal Arwani.
They initially moved their cut motions against each demand arguing that through their cut motions they wanted reduction in non-development expenditures so that funds could be utilised for construction of houses, cancer centres, better facilities to girls in schools, rehabilitation and reconstruction works in the flood-hit areas, etc.
Opposing the cut motions, Finance Minister Murad Ali Shah said that the opposition tabled only economy cuts, which the finance department had already applied by curtailing expenditures of Rs15 billion.
He said that the opposition had not mentioned any grievance against the budget nor had it disapproved any policy of the government.
On a cut motion relating to the police department, CM Shah said that instead of cutting police expenditures there was a need to provide them more funds so that they could perform more effectively.
He appreciated those members who pinpointed the problems of their areas and said that it was a healthy sign, which would strengthen democracy.
After the budget was passed, Information Minister Sharjeel Memon made a statement on the floor of the house under Rule 215 of the assembly’s rules of procedure to express regret over a statement of Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah through which he was reported to have accused President Asif Ali Zardari of getting released from prison after a deal.
He said the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) was no more a political party, but a ‘jihadi’ organidation, whose commanders were Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif and they had taken money from Osama bin Laden to topple the government of Benazir Bhutto.
He recalled that Rana Sanaullah had earlier hurled an allegation against Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who was later killed, and now he was accusing former law minister Babar Awan and PPP leader Uzma Bukhari.
Mr Memon warned Rana Sanaullah not to use such language against President Zardari.
The speaker, who called the house in order at 10.30am, adjourned the proceedings at 6pm to meet on Saturday morning.