Govt, Opposition lock horns over budget debate in Senate

Sophia Siddiqui

Islamabad

The Senate continued debate on the federal budget for next fiscal year on Wednesday with the treasury benches as usual terming it practical and pragmatic whilst the opposition criticizing it as anti poor.
Taking part in the debate, Lt. General (R) Abdul Qayyum said that the government has presented a pragmatic budget. He said that the PML-N government has added 12230 megawatts of electricity in the national grid by completing various energy projects which include Neelam-Jhelum, enhancement of Tarbela Power Station, LNG based power projects, Coal Fired Power Plants, and Nuclear and Renewable Energy Projects.
He said several other projects are also in the completion phase. Commenting on higher level of foreign debt, he said imports usually increase when development projects like energy and connectivity are underway. He said that it is the PML-N government which has gone for the construction of Diamer-Basha Dam to be completed at an estimated cost of over four hundred billion rupees. Senator Qayyum said the government welcomes constructive criticism from the opposition benches but they should refrain from hurling baseless allegations.
PTI Leader Azam Khan Swati stressed the need for enhancing tax base in the country. He emphasized on reforming and facilitating the agriculture and energy sectors. He said that efforts should be made to transform Pakistan International Airlines into the best airline in the region. He said the government should have invested more and more money in the education sector as promised in its election manifesto.
Sitara Ayaz of ANP said that new budget is not pro-poor. She said the government should further facilitate smaller provinces to bring them at par with developed parts of the country.
PPP Leader Sassui Palijo said that nothing significant has been presented for Sindh and other smaller provinces in the new budget.
She said this budget was presented without approving National Finance Commission Award. She said it is also regrettable that the budget was presented by a non-elected person. She said a huge cut of billions of rupees was done to smaller provinces.
PTI Leader Faisal Javed said that indirect taxes have been increased in the budget and it does not entail anything to provide relief to common masses. He said that the number of tax filers has declined instead of going up. He said stressed the need for taking steps to curb corruption to revamp Pakistan’s economy.

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