Senate session: Budget debate in Upper House proceeds without direction

Monday, June 17th, 2013 4:30:03 by


Senate, resuming its debate on budget for the second day on Sunday, seemed to meander directionless as lawmakers failed to focus on matters likely to affect the masses as an upshot of the fiscal policies introduced by the new government.

The session was largely dominated by a charged Senator from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas Abbas Khan Afridi who received applause from both sides of the aisle over his speech. The Senator focusing on budget, presented before Parliament on June 11, highlighted clear divides between the provinces witnessed in the election results.

“If we look at the mandate in the recent elections we notice that votes were given not on the basis of party performance, but on the basis of a particular thinking of regionalism,” he said, adding the Punjabis elected a Punjab-based party, Sindhis voted for Sindhi parties and the mandate in the other provinces was found more or less similar.

“It is the mandate of a divided and disintegrated nation and not a united one. This mandate doesn’t reflect the thinking of united Pakistan and is the reason that we see conflicts in Balochistan, Fata and K-P today,” he maintained.

Afridi added that if the leadership fails in taking all the stakeholders in the country on board while formulating policies and distributing resources it would negatively impact national integration.

He warned that if the problems of the people were not addressed the situation in Punjab could get volatile too.

Afridi also criticised the government for discriminating Fata in the budget. He further said that despite receiving money for Fata under the Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF) programme, the government had hardly given the region any importance.

He also lamented that the government did not allocate anything in the budget for the IDPs.

Taking part in the debate‚ Farhatullah Babar urged the government to draft a conceptual framework to strengthen the economy. Babar said that without curbing militancy and terrorism economic growth and investment is impossible. He termed the attack on Quaid-e-Azam’s residency in Ziarat and the one targeting the female students in Quetta “attacks on the past and future of Pakistan”. He on behalf of the PPP assured the government of its cooperation to address these issues.

Saeedul Hassan Mandokhel said one per cent increase in tax will have its effects on the poor people. He urged the finance minister to pay attention to Afghan Transit Trade to boost revenue collection instead of increasing GST.

PPP Senator Saeed Ghani said the government had ignored two backbones of Pakistan’s economy – agriculture and overseas Pakistanis in the budget.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2013.

Quetta News Sources -2

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