Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Punjab Assembly to finally present budget 2022-23 today

Punjab Assembly speaker violating Constitution, says CM Hamza Shahbaz

Punjab Assembly Speaker chairs assembly session. — Twitter
Punjab Assembly Speaker chairs assembly session. — Twitter
  • Punjab Assembly to hold budget session today at 1pm after day-long drama.
  • CM Hamza Shahbaz says 120m people expected budget to be unveiled.
  • Says speaker was bound to not have only budget debate in meeting's agenda.

LAHORE: Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi is violating the Constitution, said Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz in response to the deferral of the budget 2022-23 session, which is now scheduled for today (Tuesday) after an entire day of drama yesterday.

The provincial budget could not be presented in the assembly on Monday even after hours of delay as the Opposition and the treasury benches continued protesting against each other. It was postponed till 1pm today.

Speaking to the media outside the Punjab Assembly late Monday night, Hamza said this spectacle has been going on for the last three months. The session was summoned four times and adjourned within seconds every time, he said.

"We haven't gathered here for our personal interests. The over 120 million population of the province is waiting to know what there is for them in the budget," the chief minister said.

He said that Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman had summoned the session to present the budget on June 13.

Hamza went on to say that the provincial government provided a Rs200 billion subsidy on wheat despite the absence of the provincial cabinet. He said that the assembly speaker was bound by Constitutional responsibility not to have any item in the meeting's agenda other than the budget debate.

The chief minister announced to adopt a constitutional option.

Referring to the attack on Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari, Hamza said why would the government present the Punjab inspector-general and chief secretary before the person at the behest of whom the attack was made. He said that the Punjab IG and chief secretary just fulfilled their responsibility.

"[The] CM's election was held as per court orders. I was not the CM that day," he concluded.

Punjab Assembly budget session drama

The budget session for fiscal year 2022-23 was postponed till 1pm today.

The budget session was scheduled to begin at 2pm on Monday but started after several hours of delay. Once it started, the Opposition benches protested the presence of Punjab government spokesperson Attaullah Tarar in the assembly, as he is not a member.

“We will not let the budget be presented till [Chief Minister] Hamza Shahbaz is present in the house, while the inspector-general and chief secretary are sitting in the gallery,” the Opposition said.

Following the Opposition's protest, Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervez Elahi demanded the House’s guards escort Tarar out of the Assembly and adjourned the session for 10 minutes.

He gave the ruling to summon the Punjab IG and chief secretary to the assembly, saying that the budget will only be presented with these two officials in the House.

"The government doesn't dare to summon the IG and chief secretary in the House," Elahi said, adding that the two officials were present in the assembly when the last budget was presented.

Elahi — who lost the contest for the chief minister’s slot last month against Hamza Shahbaz — said that if Tarar was not out of the building within 10 minutes, he would adjourn the session till the next day.

After the break, the session resumed with Elahi in the chair, while Tarar exited the assembly in "protest".

Amid all the drama, the finance bill could not be presented.