Lawmakers from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on Tuesday called for more allocations in the finance bill for their respective areas.
Taking part in the budget speech, senator from FATA, Rashid Khan said the people of FATA were making sacrifices for the entire country but were not being given their due rights. “Despite the fact that the people of FATA are safeguarding the bordering areas of the country against foreign aggression, they are not being provided their due share in the NFC Award,” he said.
Khan said a mere Rs 18 billion had been allocated for the development of FATA, which was not justified. He said Balochistan had been allocated Rs 100 billion under the NFC and FATA should also be allocated the same amount as the situation in both areas was the same.
ANP’s senior vice president Senator Haji Mohammad Adeel said despite sacrifices rendered by the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) in terrorism incidents, they were being denied their due rights. He said despite all their sacrifices, tax concessions given to the people of KP had been withdrawn in the federal budget which he said should be revived.
He said KP had the potential to produce around 44,000 megawatts of power but the province was not being provided the funds required to do so. Adeel said KP was producing 5,000 megawatts of electricity while it needed only 2,200 megawatts and the rest was being given to other provinces.
Meanwhile, a Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) senator said the budget was benefiting the privileged class while the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) and the Jamiat Ahle Hadith (JAH) hailed the finance bill recommendations.
However, it was Senator Hafiz Hamdullah, a vocal lawmaker of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), who used harsh language against the security establishment, called for a significant cut in the defence budget. He demanded that since the intelligence agencies had miserably failed to perform their duties, the Rs 343 billion allocated for them should be withdrawn.
“The government should scrap its plan to increase the GST and the amount allocated for (intelligence) agencies may be used to fill this gap,” he said, adding that rather than fighting against enemy forces, the army had waged a war against its own people.
He said it was unfortunate that the government had decided to withdraw Rs 200 subsidies for the people of Balochistan.
Hamdullah said Islamic provisions should be followed while making the budget and steps should be taken to end the interest-based system of the economy.
He said interest is main component of the budget and Rs. 1154 billion were allocated this year in budget for payment of interest on loans.
MQM’s Senator Col (r) Tahir Mashhadi said it was unfortunate that 98 percent of Pakistanis were held hostage by feudals and capitalists. He said the budget was for the privileged class and the government had failed to provide relief to the poor.
Mashhadi said indirect taxes were harming the poor, excessive borrowing was hurting the economy and corruption was undermining the confidence of the investors.
However, PML-F’s Muzaffar Ali Shah said it was best budget in such difficult financial circumstances.
Shah said the energy crisis was worsening due to mismanagement and bad governance as in the past stress was put on thermal power generation which was expensive.
He emphasised that focus should be on hydro, solar and wind power projects, adding that not a single unit of electricity had been added to the national grid from the Thar coal reserves of 185 billion tonnes.
He praised the government’s effort to abolish the circular debt but said the issue would raise its head again if no attention was paid to shift the focus from thermal power to alternative sources of energy.
JAH chief Sajid Mir said abolishment of secret and discretionary funds for the cabinet members were a welcome and bold step which should be highlighted.
Calling the budget “economy-friendly and pro-Pakistan”, Mir said the budget reflected the forward-looking approach adopted by the PML-N government which should be recognised. He said the budget would help achieve self-reliance which was impossible without economic revival.
Senator Kazim Khan of the PPP said the budget was prepared on dictates of the International Monitoring Fund (IMF) and it would only benefit the elite and the businessmen. Khan said the GST raise would result into price hike which would badly affect the already poverty-stricken masses.