LAHORE   -   Calling for a review of the budget, the Opposition has suggested the government to consider its offer of charter of economy.

Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakhat could not wind up the budget debate at the Punjab Assembly on Friday due to completion of the session.

The session started one hour and 30 minutes behind the schedule with Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari in the chair.

The House witnessed uproar when PML-N’s Ashraf Rasool rose on a point of order during the speech of PTI’s Uzma Kardar. He expressed anger when the chair disallowed him. Samiullah Khan made Ashraf Rasool sit down but both sides continued to confront each other for a few minutes.

Taking part in the budget debate, PML-N’s Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan said the blame game was damaging the economy. He said it was a pity that the government was not taking Shehbaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari’s offers of charter of economy. Referring to these two leaders, he warned that if ‘these two genies’ came out to launch the movement, rulers would not be able to control the situation. He expressed sorrow that the government was doing politics on economy. He warned that NAB was destroying governance and writ of the government by interfering in every matter and had scared away every section of the society. He said the government was using NAB to control the opposition. He said the NAB would get nothing in other cases than what it got in Ashiana and Ramzan Sugar Mills cases. He said those who had been giving written speeches to the finance minster should also have given him facts about the Orange Line Metro Train. He said if a parliamentary committee was made on Pervaiz Elahi’s projects, one such committee should have been made on Shehbaz Sharif’s projects too. He said instead of accusing him, his faults should be pinpointed so that improvement could be made. He said the government levelled unproved allegations against him for projects like Orange Train, Metro bus, Danish Schools and waste disposal, which directly benefitted the common man. He said the growth rate had dropped from 6.6 per cent to 3 percent. He termed budget as nothing but IMF demands, saying opposition had rejected it and expressed hopes the government would amend the budget to provide relief to the masses.

Minister for Prosecution Ch Zaheeruddin said the government was ready to sit with the opposition but first Zardari and Shehbaz Sharif must sell properties in Switzerland and London and bring back the plundered public money.

In her maiden speech, PML-N’s Sania Ashiq alleged that the government raised prices of basic food and fuel items to please the IMF. She said that present rulers were shifting the blame of price hike to Nawaz Sharif. She said the prime minister paid back his ‘ATM’ Jahangir Tareen by raising prices of his industrial product.

PPP’s Ali Haider Gilani condemned agriculture tax, saying it amounted to slaughtering the poor peasants.

Winding up his speech, Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakhat accepted opposition’s demand about constitution of a parliamentary committee for investigating completion or delay in development of projects during 10 years of PML-N, like the government had already constituted a committee on the status of development projects launched during the government of Ch Parvez Elahi.

“The government is ready to sit down and discuss every project, including the Orange Train, but opposition would have to display a positive attitude,” he said referring to the demand made by Malik Muhammad Ahmed. He said the government had set new priorities in the right direction for the growth to build a new Punjab and given vision to the masses in ten months. He said despite that half of people in the province were living below the poverty line, yet the previous government opted for spending huge funds on Orange Train, adding that he was sure that majority of passengers would ‘suffer in English rather than in Urdu’.

On completion of the session, the chair adjourned the session at 3pm till Monday.