The chief minister and the governor cost the Punjab government Rs2.9 million a day as expense for the chief minister are over Rs991,000 and the governor Rs197,400 daily, said Leader of the Opposition Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed, citing the budget documents, on Monday.
He began the budget debate in the house, which started proceedings almost an hour later than the stipulated time of 11am. He said that Rs320 million had been earmarked for Governor House and over Rs490 million for the Chief Minister’s House.
He said the exchequer of a province, a defaulter on loan of Rs712 billion, was being burdened with such a huge waste of money. Adding salt to the wounds of poor, the chief minister has also bought a Rs1.76 billion chopper and a fleet of some new luxury cars for the staffers. His speech was continuously interrupted by the treasury with sloganeering, desk thumping and hooting. His complaint to the chair only brought him a reminder on what the opposition had done during the budget speech – slogans, whistling and protest. Women treasury members were, particularly, loud and persistent in their protest during the speech. Zaeem Qadri’s intervention saved the day for the leader of the opposition.
Mr Rasheed was of the opinion that the government had not fulfilled its promises to end loadshedding of electricity and feared that the menace may not end even in 2019, leaving alone 2018.
Interestingly, the provincial government has increased funds for all those departments that failed to spend their entire allocation during the last fiscal year. On the other hand, the government had reduced two billions of rupees in the development funds of the energy sector too, he said.
“Beyond the tall claims of the treasury lies the reality of budgetary allocations: the school education sector budget has been reduced from 18.5 per cent to 17 per cent while the annual budget for sports has also gone down,” he said. “According to fresh reports, enrolment of children in schools has gone down by at least seven per cent in the current fiscal – a clear sign of failure of government polices in the education sector. The government has also cut allocations for social welfare and Baitul Maal departments by Rs550 million while the Ashiyana Housing Scheme has been dumped as no amount is allocated in the next budget for this purpose.
“The Punjab government has no agriculture policy and all the sector was being run on adhoc bases. It used only 37 per cent of the funds allocated for the agri-sector in the current year. The government should introduce Indian-style Kissan credit cards for local farmers,” he demanded.
He said that the unemployment problems were deeper and what the government had offered as a solution for 13.5 million educated unemployed youth was the schemes like green or orange cab. The budget was completely silent on women empowerment.
Some other members also took part in the budget debate and it was still going on when the chair adjourned the house for Tuesday morning.
Courtesy: Dawn News