LAHORE   -   Legislators from two sides of the political divide exchanged heated arguments over presence of Chief Minister’s Spokesman Shehbaz Gill in the official’s gallery and his alleged clapping after the speech of a treasury member.

Before and after the incident that lasted for a while, it was business as usual during budget debate at Punjab Assembly on Wednesday. The Opposition lambasted the government for making life of the masses difficult. Treasury legislators, however, were all praise for the government for proposing a balanced budget under difficult circumstances.

During the budget debate, PML-N’s Sami Ullah Niazi drew attention of member panel of chairman Mian Shafi Muhammad towards presence of CM’s Spokesman in the official’s gallery that created uproar in the House. Legislators from two sides of the political divide exchanged harsh arguments.

On getting a nod from the chair, Sami Ullah Niazi alleged that someone (Shehbaz Gill) sitting in the official’s gallery clapped after the speech of a legislator. He said that such attitude of a person sitting the official’s gallery was highly inappropriate. He suggested teaching norms before allowing someone to sit in the official’s gallery.

Law minister Raja Basharat said that Shehbaz Gill was sitting in the gallery in his official capacity as CM’s Spokesman. He said the problem of Opposition was that he (Shehbaz Gill) was defending the government properly. He refuted the allegation of clapping, saying such incident had not happened at all. He said that manner and attitude of Shehbaz Gill was much better than a number of senior bureaucrats.

Minister for Prosecution Ch Zaheer-ud-Din said that the Opposition should not talk about ethics or manners as everybody has seen their attitude during budget speech of finance minister. He suggested the Opposition to teach manners at own house.

The Opposition legislators criticized the government for massive taxation and economic policies that led to increase in prices of all commodities. While accepting price hike, the treasury members defended the budget, saying it was the best under prevailing economic situation.

Muhammad Yousaf said that the government has imposed taxes on every business. “Thank God, government has not imposed tax on breathing and speaking”, he said, adding, the wrong policies of the present regime has rendered 1.2 million people jobless. He said that 2 million more would lose their jobs in near future.

Javaid Akhtar was all praise for the government for giving unbelievably good budget in worst economic situation. While accepting price hike, he said that it would take a few years to the PTI government to remove garbage of last 70 years. He hoped that Imran Khan led government would take the country out of present crises. He said that nine new hospitals, health card scheme and six universities were good initiatives. He urged the government to devise such a mechanism to put minimum load of taxes on the masses. He said that South Punjab province was part of PTI manifesto.

Nazir Ahmed Khan suggested enough allocation for promoting drip irrigation. He also suggested measures for bringing agri pesticides in the reach of poor farmers. He also suggested improving sewerage system and provision of clean drinking water across the province.

Ahmed Shah Khagga, Ehsan-ul-Haq, Iftikhar Hussain, Mumtaz Ali Chand, Faisal Riaz, Arshad Malik, Sardar Shahab-ud-Din, Shawana Bashir, Muhammad Kashif, Shamim Aftab, Ashraf Rind, Khalid Mehmood, Sania Ashiq and sumera Kanwal also took part in the debate.

On completion of time, the chair adjourned the session till Thursday (today) at 3pm.