ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Wednesday approved 26 demands for grants worth Rs313 billion related to various ministries and departments for the next financial year 2019-20 by rejecting all cut motions presented by lawmakers from opposition benches.
The motions for reductions put before the House were for cabinet, aviation, establishment, national security, poverty alleviation and social safety and communication divisions and Federal Public Service Commission, Emergency Relief and Repatriation Department, Airports Security Force, Meteorology, Federal Public Service Commission, Prime Minister Office, Board of Investment, Prime Minister Inspection Commission, Atomic Energy Commission and for SUPARCO.
The approved demand for grants included Rs267,000,000 to meet expenditure during financial year ending June 30, 2020, in respect of cabinet; Rs7,064,000,000 for Cabinet Division, Rs448,000,000 for Emergency Relief and Repatriation; Rs1,136,000,000 for other Expenditure of Cabinet Division; Rs112,000,000 for Aviation Division; Rs7,332,000,000 for Airports Security Force and Rs 1,293,000,000 for Meteorology Department.
In addition, the House also approved Rs2,913,000,000 for Establishment Division, Rs650,000,000 for Federal Public Service Commission, Rs4,175,246,000 for other expenditure of Establishment Division, Rs51,000,000 for National Security Division, Rs187,903,000,000 for Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division, Rs1,171,878,000 for Prime Minister’s Office and Rs280,000,000 for Board of Investment.
The National Assembly also approved Rs62,000,000 for Prime Minister’s Inspection Commission, Rs10,308,000,000 for Atomic Energy and Rs117,000,000 for stationary and printing.
The House also approved Rs45,086,475,000 for development expenditure of Cabinet Division, Rs1,266,505,000 for development expenditure of Aviation Division, Rs232,610,000 for development expenditure of Establishment Division, Rs 200,000,000 for development expenditure of Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division, Rs6,033,245,000 for development expenditure of SUPARCO and Rs24,758,726,000 for capital outlay on development of Atomic Energy.
In addition, the assembly approved Rs7,678,000,000 for Communications Division, Rs31,98,000,000 for other expenditure of the same division and Rs 248,308,000 for its development expenditure.
Earlier in the day, the opposition lawmakers 720 cut motions after debate on the federal budget resumed. These included cuts in allocations to the Aviation Division, the Establishment Division, the National Security Division, and the Poverty Alleviation and Safety Division.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, was also in attendance today, whereas the opposition parties were low in number due to the All Party Conference (APC) is Islamabad, hosted by Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rahman.
Earlier, Minister for Revenue Hammad Azhar moved various demands for grants that were approved through a voice vote.
Speaking prior to the voice vote, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Ayesha Ghaus Pasha said that there had been an 83 per cent increase in the demands for grants.
Last year, the grants (charged expenditures) were Rs23,732 billion and now the government is seeking approval of charged expenditures worth Rs43,478bn, she said, adding that this was due to the government’s mismanagement, not due to the loans taken by the previous regimes.
She said the government was pushing people below the line of poverty and yet it takes credit for ‘initiating social welfare programmes’.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Nafisa Shah demanded a parliamentary body to review the debt management policy of the current government instead of a commission to investigate the utilisation of debts obtained by previous governments.
PPP’s Hina Rabbani Khar also called out the government for its austerity drive. She said the prime minister used to claim in his speeches that he had reduced the expenditure of PM Office, but the current budget allocates Rs1.17bn to the PM Office as compared to last year’s Rs986m.
PML-N’s Khawaja Asif expressed his fear that the “free fall of the Pakistani rupee will drown us”. He said the US dollar and British pound currently trading at Rs161 and Rs201, it appeared that rupee devaluation had gone out of control.
PPP’s Abdul Qadir Patel criticised the government over its large cabinet size. “There is an army of ministers, advisers, and spokespersons. They are enjoying protocol and wasting public money,” he said.
PML-N’s Khurram Dastagir also criticised the government for a big cabinet size. “They used to say that their cabinet would comprise 12 members. Now it is four times larger,” he said.