ISLAMABAD - Amid severe rumpus created by the opposition, the government managed to extend for 120 days an ordinance empowering it to continue collecting gas infrastructure development cess.

The resolution to extend ‘Gas Infrastructure Development Cess Ordinance-2014' was passed with majority vote on the last day of the 17th Session despite strong opposition from Pakistan People's Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Jamaat-e-Islami and Qaumi Watan Party.

The protesting lawmakers rose on their seats and kept chanting slogans till the resolution was adopted. Apart from chanting slogans and creating hullabaloo, the opposition benches before leaving the house in protest also attempted to adjourn the house proceedings by pointing out quorum but the required strength was present to pass the resolution.

The Ordinance was about to expire in a couple of days. The government, which says the extension is essential to generate funds for gas import projects, had deferred presentation of this resolution the other day (Thursday) due to immense pressure from opposition, which asked the government to get approval from the Council of Common Interest (CCI) for it as otherwise it would be an undemocratic step.

One important clause of the ordinance says, “The cess shall be utilised by the federal government for or in connection with infrastructure development of Iran Pakistan Pipeline project, Turkmenistan Afghanistan Pakistan India (TAPI) pipeline projects, LNG or other projects for price equalisation.”

Defending the government, Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that the government would soon bring it in the parliament in the shape of a bill.

"It would not affect domestic consumers... We want to resolve gas-related issues of the country," he said informing the House that this ordinance was basically laid in the PPP's era.

About petrol shortage in the country, the minister said that the prevailing petrol situation would start improving in a couple of days, while shortage would end completely by January 25. He said the petrol demand has increased up to 25 percent in the last two weeks in Punjab and the government is making all-out efforts to arrange the additional fuel to meet the growing demand.

Water and Power Minister Khwaja Asif said the shortage was temporary and would be overcome in 10 to 12 days. "The imbalance has occurred due to reduced prices of petroleum products," he said, adding that loadshedding would also be controlled in three to four months.

Fata lawmakers on the last day of the 17th session once again staged walkout from the House, vowing to continue their protest until their reservations are addressed. "We need complete satisfaction otherwise we will stage sit-in near the speaker’s dice from the next session," said Ghalib Khan, a legislator from Fata, before staging walkout from the proceedings.

The deputy speaker, after the question hour, announced that PTI lawmakers Junaid Akbar, Aaqib Ali, Hamidul Haq and Mujhahid Ali were not attending the House for the last 40 working days of the National Assembly. The speaker during the whole session had been announcing the absence of all the PTI lawmakers who have submitted their resignations.

It is noteworthy that 'Rules & Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly', say: “If a member is absent without leave of the Assembly for forty consecutive days of its sittings, the speaker shall bring the fact to the notice of the assembly and thereupon any member may move that the seat of the member who has been so absent be declared vacant.”

Earlier, Inter Provincial Coordination Minister Riaz Pirzada introduced a bill 'The minimum wages for unskilled workers (amendment), 2015'.

“Minimum wages would be increased from Rs10,000 to Rs12,000 per month for welfare of labour class," says the bill. Another bill 'The prevention of electronic crimes bill-2015' was also introduced in the lower house at the fag-end of the proceedings.

NA Special Committee Chairman Omar Ayub Khan laid before the House a report on investigation of the allegation of non-payment of taxes by a number of parliamentarians. Earlier, State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed, during the question hour, said that the government will set up Sweet Homes at Shangla, Bhakkar and Khairpur.