Pre-budget debate opens – Opposition raps treasury for mismanagement

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LAHORE – The government should not make false promises and fool the people through employing a jugglery of words, Punjab Assembly Opposition Leader Chaudhary Zaheer stated categorically while opening the pre-Budget General Discussion in the Punjab Assembly.
A discussion opened in the Punjab Assembly yesterday (Monday) calling house members to submit proposals for the fiscal budget 2011-12. The discussion is expected to continue for 4 consecutive days. Chaudhary Zaheer continuing his speech stressed the next budget should remove disparities in the division of funds as statistics showed that for every Rs 35,000 spent on the welfare of Lahore;s residents Rs 1-5,000 is spent on a South Punjab resident, leaving them alienated.
He continued to condemn bloc allocations which had no accountability; for example, .Rs Higher Education was allocated Rs 550.5 million, Police was allocated Rs 350 million, Sports was allocated Rs 1.62 billion and Power & Development was allocated Rs 4.25 billion.
He suggested spending must initiate fully funded projects instead of projects that would face fund shortages. There were many such incomplete projects in Punjab, he stressed, Project Management Units should be established to ensure the timely completion of projects and checking the utilization of development funds. Small dams with a capacity of 50 MW can be constructed by provinces to resolve the power crisis, he said. The CM failed the promise of generating 350-MW electricity, he continued to remark.
He suggested the use of solar energy pumps for the agriculture sector and suggested the need for a comprehensive water logging policy. He stressed the need for agricultural research and need to provide fertilizers, seeds and DAP at reasonable rates. He also claimed the Bio-Fertilizer technology was a scam and had no truth.
The Punjab Finance Minister in his opening speech said that the government has adopted the policy of simplicity, claiming that government had saved Rs 2.80 billion by ensuring the transparent project completion. He claimed his working committee had saved Rs 2 billion in the purchase of air-conditioners, generators and vehicles, while cutting down unnecessary expenditure. He said government was looking into its contract employee policy.
He said the next Annual Development Program (ADP) the government would focus on poverty, employment, health, education, law and order, drinkable water, technical education, industrial development, food, private sector and women development. He ensured the house that suggestions by members would be taken on board.
The PML-F parliamentary leader criticized the Punjab Chief Minister calling him the ‘King’ of Punjab. He challenged the government to prove spending for the welfare of flood hit families. He condemned the failures of government departments claiming none had delivered on the targets. He demanded an explanation for where the government had spent the Rs 54 billion grant for flood hit families.
He said rulers should spend from their own pockets to maintain their luxurious lifestyles, claiming his words would ‘make no difference.’ Rana Abdur Rehman, Anjum Safdar, Chaudhary Sher Ali, Malik Iftikhar Khaitaraan, Rana Arshad and minority member Rafique also spoke during the first day’s discussion. The house will resume on Tuesday morning.