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Budget debate: MNAs call for ministers’ presence

Parliamentarians in the National Assembly on Tuesday demanded the speaker to ensure punctuality and the presence of ministers during the budget session to address the queries of the members of the House.

The sitting scheduled at 4 pm on Tuesday started at 4:56 pm, which prompted the lawmakers to urge the chair to ensure punctuality and ministers’ presence in the House.

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Minister for Human Rights Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada said that the sitting started almost an hour late, which was a waste of time.

He asked the chair to start the proceedings of the House in time so that lawmakers could utilise time during the budget session in an effective way and raise issues related to the economy and their constituencies.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lawmaker Syed Ghulam Mustafa Shah demanded the chair to summon a meeting of the business advisory committee to settle SOPs between opposition and treasury lawmakers. He said the ongoing budget session was very important and the opposition benches could be convinced not to point out the quorum.

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Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf endorsed the views of Riaz Hussain Pirzada and Syed Ghulam Mustafa Shah and ensured implementation.

Meanwhile, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) legislator Engr Sabir Hussain Kaim Khani said the session of the House should start in time, as legislators usually sit in lobbies and their presence in the House on time was not an issue.

MNA Noor Alam Khan said the opposition would not point out the quorum but the finance minister should be present during the debate on the budget. In case of the absence of the federal minister for finance, he said the state minister for finance should be in the House, while the relevant officials of ministries concerned should note down the suggestions of the lawmakers. The chair said that presence of cabinet members should be ensured to note down important points raised by lawmakers.

Meanwhile, legislators in the Lower House highlighted the importance of adopting the model of a Riba-free economy to get rid of financial challenges confronting the country.

They were of the view that the national economy should be Sharia-compliant, as in the Holy Quran faithful had been directed to avoid ‘Riba’ (interest amount) if they wanted their well-being.

Resuming debate on the Budget 2022-23 in the House, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) MNA Moulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali stressed the need for making the national economy interest-free in line with the teachings of the Quran, Sunnah and the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

He said the annual fiscal plan was presented in parliament for debate and subsequent passage through the vote, but it also contained interest-related matters.

The MMA lawmaker said it was unfortunate that millions of students were getting an education at religious seminaries but no funds had been allocated for this sector in the Federal Budget 2022-23, asking the government to earmark appropriate funds in this regard. He also requested the government to exempt seminaries and mosques from taxes.

The lawmaker also highlighted the miseries of the common man, especially after the increase in the prices of petroleum products, electricity and food.

Chitrali was of the view that the increasing inflation could lead to several social problems like crimes, and urged the government to make concerted efforts to tackle the issue, besides ensuring the provision of edible items at reasonable and controlled rates.

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