Wednesday Jun 30 2021

Budget 2021-22 debate in numbers

Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin presenting speaking on the floor of the National Assembly in Islamabad, on June 29, 2021. — Twitter/NAofPakistan
Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin presenting speaking on the floor of the National Assembly in Islamabad, on June 29, 2021. — Twitter/NAofPakistan

  • 32 MNAs did not participate in the finance bill's final voting.
  • 240 MNAs deliver speeches for 54 hours in budget session.
  • The Finance Bill, 2021 was discussed for 10 days in NA.

It was simply an easy walkover for the government in the National Assembly on Tuesday, with as many as 25 of 32 members from the Opposition benches in the Lower House of the Parliament remaining absent from the voting process conducted for the passage of the Finance Bill 2021-2022.

During the proceedings, it was witnessed that the government did not face any resistance from the united Opposition which did not challenge any move from the Treasury benches on the current budget affairs.

Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif did not attend the session. Among well-known members were MNAs Khawaja Saad Rafique, Usman Ibrahim, Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Nawab Talpur, and many others who did not show up.

MNA Abdul Akbar Chitrali of Jamaat-e-Islami, MNAs Najeeb Uddin Owaisi, Abid Raza also refrained from attending the session. Seven members from Treasury benches were absent as well.

Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was also not over there while vote counting occurred in the House. Even on Tuesday, representatives from the Opposition benches did not challenge the voice counting in the House as they knew they did not have enough votes.

Not a single proposal of the Opposition was accepted in this budget session, except a proposal on air tickets and vouchers of MNAs given by Rana Qasim of PML-N which did not involve any finances.

Only one proposal will be reviewed by the government which did not involve any financial matter as promised by Foreign Affairs Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the floor of the House.

No challenge came from the Opposition at all during the budget session, rather, Shahbaz was stopped from delivering his speech by MNAs from the Treasury benches at one stage at the start of the budget session soon after the Finance Bill was presented by Finance Minister Shaukat Tareen on June 11.

The government also got smooth sailing on the floor after it passed 128 demands worth around Rs4 trillion and not a single vote-count called by leaders of Opposition parties during this session.

Opposition parties collectively moved around 1,432 cut motions but showed no resistance and competition while debating them. Some 600 cut motions and 120 demands were moved by the PML-N followed by PPP which moved an almost equal number of cut motions and gave proposals to the house on this budget.

As many as 240 of the total 342 MNAs consumed some 54 hours to deliver their speeches on the Finance Bill 2021-22. Members from the Opposition benches got over 28 hours for their speeches.

Three important speeches were delivered by the finance minister himself, while MNAs Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, Khurshid Shah, Naveed Qamar, Rao Ajmal, Dr Nafisa Shah, Khurram Dastgir, etc., also delivered speeches. Shahbaz consumed as many as three hours for his speech, while 102 MNAs did not deliver their speeches on budget, including PML-N's Khawaja Asif.

Not less than four days shall be allotted for the general discussion on the budget, according to Rule 187 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in National Assembly 2007.

The Lower House of the Parliament continued debate on the Finance Bill, 2021 for 10 days where the NA Session could not initiate debate for three consecutive days — June 14-16 — due to the ruckus in the house.

The formal debate started on June 17, 2021, and it continued till June 24. The NA also discussed recommendations of the Senate and 12 MNAs expressed their views on it. The finance minister concluded the debate on the Finance Bill, 2021 on June 25.