ISLAMABAD: Senators on Monday demanded more allocations for smaller provinces, and health and education sectors in the federal budget 2020-21.
Taking part in the debate in Senate, Ateeq Shaikh of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) praised Prime Minister Imran Khan and his financial team for presenting a balanced budget in a critical time when the whole world was facing a financial crisis due to coronavirus pandemic.
He, however, said the budget lacked visible relief for the overseas Pakistanis, who contributed to the national economy through remittances. They should be allowed to bring used mobile phones, besides giving them tax exemption for buying property in Pakistan, he added.
He stressed on taking more steps for digitising the country as it could create job opportunities. The government should provide laptops to the youth free of charge or through banks on easy installments, he added.
Ateeq Shaikh said that the Chinese president had introduced digital currency in the wake of Covid-19, which should be replicated in Pakistan also.
Robina Khalid of Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) criticised the federal government for taking over charge of hospitals in the Sindh province. She asked the federal government to take over hospitals of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), particularly Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar, which she claimed, were in worse condition. She also urged the government to reduce the prices of sugar and medicines in the country.
Senator Nuzhat Sadiq of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) expressed her concern over rising number of Covid-19 patients. She said that the government had slashed the budget of higher education. She claimed a record budget was earmarked by the PML-N government for higher education and suggested incumbent government to also increase the same.
Gul Bushra of Pakhtunkhwa Mili Awami Party (PkMAP) claimed that no relief was given to the masses in the budget. She alleged that a meager amount was allocated for Balochistan.
Dr Jehanzeb Jamal Dini said that allocations of Rs55 billion and Rs32 billion for Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) were a good omen. He pointed out that Rs10 billion was earmarked for Balochistan, which constituted 44 per cent of the country. He urged that the under developed Balochistan should be brought at par with other provinces.
He also called for setting up at an oil refinery in Balochistan, which would help generate thousands of employment opportunities for the local people.
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq, while taking part in the debate, alleged that the government had not given any relief to the general masses in the budget as the per capita income had decreased from $354 to $264. The development budget of only Rs650 billion was allocated, he added.
The JI chief said the agriculture sector should be given due attention in the budget as around 70 per cent people of the country were directly and indirectly linked with it.
He said that the government had made cut in the budgets of health and education sectors, which needed to be revised.
Kabeer Ahmed Shahi of National Party (NP) also stressed to allocate more amount for Balochistan and its due share in the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) had been termed a `game changer’ and visible development should be made in Balochistan after that project, he added.
He demanded a desalination plant for Gwadar as its people had no clean drinking water.
Usman Khan Kakar complained that the previous governments had neglected Balochistan and the current opposition was not raising voice to resolve the problems being faced by the people of the province either.
PPPP’s Behramand Khan Tangi also criticised the budget. During his speech, the treasury lawmakers protested over the objectionable language used by him. An exchange of harsh words was witnessed form both sides of aisle.
Muhammad Ayub Afridi and Zeeshan Khanzada also expressed their views on the budget. Later, the House was adjourned to meet again on Wednesday at 4 pm.