Punjab budget today: Provincial minister Laghari to present budget for fiscal year 2022-23

PA speaker directs MPAs to launch strong protest in the house

A fiery budget session of Punjab Assembly will commence today (Monday) in which provincial minister Sardar Awais Laghari will present the budget for the year 2022-23.

The province does not have a finance minister yet as there are some differences between the PML-N and PPP over the portfolios. Both the parties are insisting on getting the portfolio of finance, with the PPP pressing for its MPA from south Punjab Makhdoom Usman while PML-N wants Mian Mujtaba Shuja as the finance minister. In the absence of the finance minister, a notification was issued by the chief minister in which Sardar Awais Laghari was nominated to handle the business of Finance Department during the budget session.

“Due to non-availability of Minister Incharge, CM has been pleased to assign Assembly Business of Finance Department to Sardar Awais Ahmad Khan Laghari, Provincial Minister, during the forthcoming budget session of Punjab Assembly,” read a notification issued on Sunday evening. Now, Laghari will deliver the budget speech in the session that will start at 2:00pm.

It will be the first formal sitting of Punjab Assembly after the election of the chief minister held on 16th April that was marred by ruckus and pandemonium. Hamza got elected as Punjab chief minister by getting 197 votes but now he has lost the majority after losing 25 MPAs who were de-seated by the Election Commission of Pakistan for violating the party policy. So, a clash is expected between the MPAs as Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi is also siding with the PTI lawmakers in this crucial session.

A joint parliamentary party meeting of PTI and PML-Q was held in Punjab Assembly on Sunday to devise a strategy for the budget session. Similarly, PML-N and PPP also held a parliamentary party meeting at 90-Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam, under the chairmanship of CM Hamza Shehbaz. The meeting of PTI and PML-Q was chaired by Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi despite the fact that he is custodian of the house and has to be neutral. Talking to media outside the Punjab Assembly, Elahi said that MPAs will put up severe resistance during the budget session.

“They have increased the prices of petrol, electricity and gas. We’ll do their post-mortem in the budget session,” Elahi warned. He went on to say that the PML-N doesn’t have the numbers and therefore will not be able to pass the budget in Punjab Assembly. When asked about how the budget session will be, Elahi replied that it was unknown. His answer showed that there is a high chance of clashes during the budget session between the MPAs.

Former CM Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar, Mian Mehmmod ur Rasheed, Sabtain Khan, Mian Aslam Iqbal, Raja Basharat and other senior MPAs of PTI also had a meeting. The meeting condemned the cases and arrests of the opposition members. Elahi directed the members of the assembly to ensure their attendance in the budget session to protest against the “anti-people budget”. He further said that the government is committing the worst acts of revenge and Punjab has become a police state. “It seems that the province is being run by IG Punjab Police and not by Hamza Shehbaz,” he said, adding that the matter of IG Punjab Police would come up in the privilege committee and he would be punished.