Opp, PML-N MPs from South Punjab question Punjab’s budget allocations

  • PTI leader Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed urges steps to boost industrial sector

Thursday was not an easy day for the government as Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed took the provincial government to task while opening debate on budget for the fiscal year 2016-17 and even treasury members hailing from South Punjab mounting criticism on the government for neglecting their area.

Breaking all past records, Rasheed spoke in the House for three hours in which he debated the allocation of budget to the various sectors thoroughly.

“People are shifting their businesses from Pakistan to other countries due to the anti-business policies of the government,” the opposition leader said.

Recalling that more than 100 textile industries were closed in the last financial year, the PTI leader called for emergency steps to boost the industrial sector of the province.

He went on to say that the government had done nothing for the improvement of the energy sector despite frequent visits of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif to Chnia and Turkey. “The masses are facing acute shortage of electricity, while Rs 20 billion had been lapsed in the energy sector last year, he added.

According to Rasheed, a sum of Rs 20 billion allocated for the energy sector was diverted to the ‘so-called’ Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT).

Talking about the OLMT, Rasheed said the government had deprived the people of southern Punjab from their due development projects and transferred the funds to the OLMT.

“I was born in Lahore and the OLMT is also being constructed in this city, but I am the opposition leader of an assembly which represents 100 million people of the country’s largest province. I daresay the people of Punjab will never forgive their rulers for this,” he said.

“As many as Rs 12 billion subsidy would be required to run this project and the temperature of the city would increase according to environment experts,” he said while talking about the de-feasibility of the OLMT.

“The Bab-i-Pakistan project is being neglected for the past eight years as not a single penny has been allocated for this project,” Rasheed said, and vowed that the PTI would complete this project by collecting funds from the public if the government failed to execute it.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz lawmaker Ilyas Chinioti from PP-73 (Jhang) walked out of the House, complaining that his constituency did not get due development funds. “Only an amount of Rs 50 million was allocated to 12 union councils which fall in my constituency while Rs 730 million were allocated to Chanab Nagar, an Ahmadi-dominated area adjacent to my constituency,” he said.

“The area of Chanab-Nagar is a private colony owned by the Ahmadis and they are against the existence of Pakistan. I will continue boycotting assembly proceedings until the government puts a ban on their budget allocation,” he remarked.

Ghulam Murtaza, a lawmaker from Pakistan Muslim League-Zia (PML-Z), a PML-N ally, from PP-283 (Bahawalnagar) said that he was unable to comprehend the budget allocation policy of bureaucrats. “My constituency received only Rs 90 million from a hefty amount of Rs 550 billion allocated for the Annual Development Programme (ADP) which is unacceptable to the people of my constituency,” he said.

He added that the people in his area were dying because of filthy water but the government had done nothing in this regard. “Our rulers are damaging democracy and forcing the people to welcome the dictatorship in future,” Murtaza said.

Finance Minister Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha remained present in the House during the speeches of lawmakers. Later, the session was adjourned till Friday (today).