Opposition parties reject budget, vow to resist

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–Bilawal says that govt is engaging in blatant pre-poll rigging by presenting sixth budget

–Asad Umar says budget makes no mention of how circular, public sector debt will be paid

 

ISLAMABAD: The opposition political parties have straightaway rejected the budget for the fiscal year 2018-19, stating that the incumbent government has no right to present a full sixth budget and termed it as a well-orchestrated move to influence the forthcoming general elections.

Two main opposition parties Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) strongly reacted to the budget and vowed that they would not accept the budget because the incumbent government was not entitled to present a full budget.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said, “By presenting a full sixth budget the government is not only engaging in blatant pre-poll rigging, ignoring the concerns of chief ministers who protested but also usurping the right of the next government who will now only get to pass four budgets.”

PPP Parliamentary Party will be meeting to discuss what their strategy would be to block the government from presenting what the party considers an irregular budget.

PTI leader Asad Umar said that there is no mention in the budget about how and when the circular debt of more than Rs500 billion and the public sector debt of more than Rs1 trillion will be paid.

“Totally false and understated fiscal deficit hiding large unpaid amounts which are not recognised in the budget,” he added.

“The budget also does not deal with the reality of dangerously falling foreign exchange reserves and the headlong rush of the economy towards a bailout,” Umar alleged.

PPP senior leader and Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Sherry Rehman said that they rejected the bill and will protest against it. She said that the government brought tax amnesty scheme just ahead of the budget which is quite unfortunate.

She said, “Today a lame duck government will present a lame duck budget. No government elected for five years insists on presenting the sixth budget. Despite constitutional provisions for presenting an interim budget, unlike Sindh, the federal government is trying to lock-in Pakistan to its disastrous record.”

PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry in his reaction said that the government trumpeted the mantra of vote sanctity but by presenting the budget, the government negated its own slogan and narrative, adding that the government presented the federal budget for the fiscal year 2018-19 to influence the upcoming general elections.

He said that Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) is the true reflection of dictatorship, adding that the government started treading on the path of former dictator General (r) Pervez Musharraf, who elected himself twice from the same assembly and the incumbent government did the same by presenting the budget from the assembly when only one month is left in its current tenure, adding that PML-N leaders have changed their narrative wherever their interests clashed.

Fawad said that under Article 86, the government could present a budget for four months only and it has no right to present a full year budget since it has no value in the eyes of the law.

He said that PTI would give its future plan in its April 29 jalsa in Lahore. PTI would give its own budget after coming into power, he added.

Criticising the appointment of Miftah Ismail who is not an elected representative as the Federal Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs, he said that since Rana Afzal was available and qualified for the post of finance minister, the government set a bad example.

He said that the government is talking about consensus budget when three chief ministers boycotted the meeting of the Council of Common Interest (CCI).

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Senator Sirajul Haq said that the government, which would be completing its term after two months, has no right to present the budget for the full year.

Commenting on the federal budget, he said that the present government had gone beyond its mandate and deprived the next elected government of its constitutional right to present the budget.