Pakistan

Punjab budget presented in ‘first ever’ parallel session amid ruckus


The Punjab Assembly presented its budget for the fiscal year 2022-23, with a parallel session held at the provincial legislature, headed by Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi.

The main session was chaired by Deputy Speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari whereas Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MPA Awais Leghari presented the budget at the Aiwan-e-Iqbal, Lahore on Wednesday.

The two sessions were held after the two sides failed to resolve the deadlock owing to their differences.

It is arguably the first time that two parallel sessions have been held prior to the approval of the budget.

Addressing the session, provincial finance minister Awais Leghari highlighted the "fast pace of development" during the tenure of the PML-N government.

He added that there was no completed development project during the past three and a half years.

The total outlay of the budget is Rs3,226 billion, with a significant Rs685 billion for the Annual Development Programme (ADP).

The programme puts a special focus on the initiatives for the downtrodden and overcoming inflation.

The budget doesn’t propose any new tax.

For the development sector, the highest Rs272.6 billion has been allocated for the social sector, Rs172.55 billion for the healthcare and Rs64.56 billion for the education sector.

An additional Rs164 billion has been earmarked for infrastructure development that includes Rs80.8 billion to build roads.

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‘Non-democratic session’

Later, talking to media persons, Speaker Elahi termed the session “non-democratic”, saying the deputy speaker had no powers in the presence of the speaker of the assembly.

He further stated that the treasury did not have the requisite numbers [for the session].

The veteran politician went on to say that holding a parallel session of the assembly was tantamount to weakening the institution.

Deadlock

On Tuesday, the daylong political drama that began a day earlier persisted as the speaker refused to conduct the session, asking for the IGP to furnish an apology to him and withdraw the cases lodged against the previous ruling party and the PML-Q in connection with the April 16 session.

Following several meetings with the other side, Speaker Elahi asserted that the session would only take place if the IGP, as well as the chief secretary, were present in the assembly galley.

Subsequently, Governor Balighur Rehman cancelled the 40th session and summoned another at Aiwan-e-Iqbal today. However, the speaker declared that the 40th session would still continue.

Budget proposals

Two days ago, Punjab's cabinet approved a 30 per cent increase in the salaries of government employees. It was also decided to follow the example of the federal government and merge all ad-hoc relief.

Similarly, the government decided to provide a 15 per cent disparity allowance and 15 per cent additional salary, which will be available for the employees of certain government departments.

It also approved a 15 per cent hike in pensions against the proposed increase of five per cent.

In addition to approving the Annual Development Programme 2022-23, the meeting also gave the nod to the MoU for providing free medicines to cancer patients.


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