Punjab to unveil budget on Monday sans finance minister

Differences have emerged between PML-N, PPP over finance portfolio

The budget session of the Punjab Assembly has been called by Governor Baligh-ur-Rehman even though the province is yet to get its new finance minister. As per the details, the Punjab government has converted the ongoing 40th session of the Punjab Assembly into a budget session, and a notification will be issued soon.

The budget session of the Punjab Assembly will commence on Monday, but there is no finance minister yet in the province. Sources within the ruling party told MinuteMirror that some differences have emerged within the ranks of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) over the finance portfolio. PPP wants Makhdoom Usman to get the portfolio of finance minister, while PML-N is pressing for Mian Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman — who had served as finance minister in the past during the PML-N government. The sources said that negotiations are going on between the senior leadership of both parties, and they will reach a consensus soon.

Currently, PPP has two ministers in the cabinet of Hamza Shehbaz — including Syed Hassan Murtaza and Ali Haider Gillani — while PPP is eyeing three more ministries as well as advisors and special assistants. Recently, PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari held a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz in Lahore to sort out the differences over the portfolios.

Earlier, differences had also emerged between PPP and PML-N on the day the Punjab cabinet took the oath. The delegation of PPP returned from the gate of Governor House when the PPP leaders came to know that Hassan Murtaza wasn’t being made a senior minister. The CM and the governor kept waiting for an hour for the PPP nominees who were supposed to take the oath. The insiders told this scribe that the PPP delegation returned after getting a message from Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. The sources said that some contacts were made between the highest leadership of both the parties and then it was decided that Hassan Murtaza would be made a senior minister in Punjab.

As of right now, there are eight ministers in Punjab, including two from PPP. They include Malik Ahmad Khan, Awais Laghari, Kh Salman Rafique, Attaullah Tarar, Bilawal Warraich, Rana Iqbal, Hassan Murtaza and Ali Haider Gillani.

It is pertinent to mention that not a single minister could get any portfolio, although they are looking after some departments. Laghari is looking after the local government department while Malik Ahmad is heading the meetings of the law department. The sources said that the second phase of the Punjab cabinet will be announced soon, and it is highly likely that they will take oath before the budget.

Talking to Minute Mirror, provincial minister Attaullah Tarar said that the issue of portfolios will be sorted out soon as a discussion is going on between the two parties. He said that it is likely that Mian Mujtaba Shuja will give the budget speech.