ISLAMABAD - Succumbing to the pressure both from the opposition and the treasury benches, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday announced to withdraw Carbon Tax on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). Making the announcement on the flour of the Lower House the Prime Minister said he directed Ministry of Finance to immediately withdraw the decision after he had heard the views of the Parliamentarians and changes to that effect would be made soon. We have withdrawn carbon tax on CNG worth Rs 12 billion and I have directed the Ministry of Finance to review the carbon tax and come up with a transparent mechanism with development surcharges, he told the House. He said that the tax on CNG was taken back mainly on two grounds; it was being used by the middle class people, and it was also an environment-friendly product. Parliamentarians from across the divide welcomed the announcement and thumped desks. In his speech, PML-N MNA Birjees Tahir drew the attention of the House towards the privatisation of the PTCL saying the government should review the decision as it could not come up to the expectations, asking the government to announce NFC award as it had been the longstanding demand of the provinces. Pakistan Peoples Party MNA Azra Fazal lauded the huge allocations for agriculture sector, a backbone of national economy, and asked the government to ensure decrease in the prices of agricultural inputs like fertilizers as well as electricity. PML-N leader Khawaja Asif thanked Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance Shaukat Tarin for presenting the budget amidst financial crisis confronting the country and said the Charter of Democracy was yet to be implemented to ensure transparency and strengthening the institutions. He drew the governments attention towards alleged corruption in WAPDA and telecom sector, adding economic collision was far more threatening than militancy as according to the statistics, the cumulative losses of railways, WAPDA, PIA and steel mills had crossed Rs 200 billion. He urged President Asif Zardari to probe into the murder of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, saying, He owes it to the nation. Citing a recent report of Transparency International, Khwaja Asif told the house that the corruption volume had increased from Rs 45 billion to Rs 195 billion in the country. Former Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Sherpao said contrary to the claims of the government, all the power generation projects, including dams and wind power plant, were initiated by the previous government. Owing to the financial losses confronting the PIA, Railways and WAPDA, he suggested for their privatisation, adding the NFC award was a constitutional obligation of the government that needed to be fulfilled without any delay. He called for proper assessment of damages in infrastructure, crops and houses of IDPs that may lead to the estimation of the amount required for the project. Taking part in the debate, Nawab Yousuf Talpur of PPP, said agriculture sector had witnessed over four percent growth that was an extraordinary achievement of the government. Talpur said nobody knew why the government was delaying National Finance Commission (NFC) award and demanded of the government to announce the award as soon as possible. He said the government should repeal the 17th amendment, adding provinces should be given autonomy. PML-Q, MNA Amir Muqam urged the government to review the prices of electricity so that relief should be given to the downtrodden segment of the society. Minister for Railways Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour said had the previous government given proper attention to energy sector, the situation would have been different. He said the government should repeal the 17th amendment and announce the National Finance Commission (NFC) award as soon as possible, adding that provinces should be given more autonomy. Bushra Rehman said masses purchasing power had decreased during the last fiscal year. She termed the finance bill a 'suitcase budget. She said BISP should not be run at the cost of the national kitty. It should be from President Zardaris own pocket, she demanded. Akram Masih Gil appreciated the governments decision to allocate five percent job quota for minorities in the federal government services and added its implementation in letter and spirit must be ensured. S A Iqbal Qadir of MQM stressed the need to impose tax on agriculture sector to achieve the revenue collection targets and improve the national economy. Zahid Hamid of PML-N commended Prime Minister for withdrawing the carbon tax from the CNG sector and hoped that it would also be removed from POL products. Nadeem Afzal Chan of PPP said agricultural and industrial reforms should be introduced on priority basis. Zafar Ali Shah said agriculture sector was already taxed so there should be no further burden on it. He said poverty level was increasing in the country and the government must take concrete steps to bring improvement in the social sector. Tahira Aurangzeb regretted that the budget, which had been presented by a woman with a woman speaker in the chair, lacked any programme for welfare of the women community. She said vocational training centres should be set up at union councils level to empower women and make them self-reliant and useful citizen of the country. Malik Nawaz Sher Waser Ali said criticism for the sake of criticism is not good. He said the government had adopted prudent policies and energy situation is improving in the country day by day. Taking part in debate, MQM MNA Salahuddin said due to huge debts, the development projects of the country might be affected so the government should assure that the development projects do not come to halt. Sher Mohammed Baloch lauded President Zardari for forming coalition government amidst several crises confronting the country. Khawaja Mohammed Khan Hoti said the House comprised several economic experts so the government should have incorporated their input in the budget and thanked the prime minister for withdrawing the carbon surcharge. He suggested that prime minister should also exempt the people of Mardan and Swabi as they were bearing the huge burden of IDPs. Shahzada Mohiyuddin said the foreign visits of President Zardari meant for the economic stability of the country so criticism in this regard was irrational. Marvi Memon said the budget lacked relief measures for industrial sector and the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan.