PPP MNA lashes out at govt over ‘anti-poor’ policies
18 June, 2010
ISLAMABAD: In a clear departure from the party stance of defending the 2010-11 budget as being pro-poor, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Member of National Assembly (MNA) Begum Nasim Akhtar Chaudhary on Thursday criticised the government’s economic policy, saying it has ‘pressed the poor further against the wall’.
Taking part in the budgetary debate during the NA session, Nasim – also the chairwoman of the NA Standing Committee on Law and Justice – said the government’s economic and financial policies had widened the gap between the rich and the poor during the last two years. She said it was a ‘matter of shame’ that inflation had increased sharply during the PPP’s term in office.
Nasim also questioned the size of the cabinet at a time when the country is facing severe economic challenges, and demanded the government justify its decision of going to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for aid without taking parliament into confidence. She deplored the fact that the PPP-led government – contrary to its manifesto of providing roti, kapra or makaan – had actually increased the prices of all basic necessities.
The MNA was of the view that the country was passing through a critical juncture in its history and the government should have set an example by reducing its expenditures to ease its financial woes. No one knows what happened to the austerity measures announced by former finance minister Shaukat Tareen to curtail government spending, she added.
Walkout: Meanwhile, The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid staged a walkout from the House when the NA speaker disallowed party member Sardar Shahjahan Yousuf additional time to speak on the Hazara province issue.
Later, the members from the ruling benches brought the PML-Q MNAs back to rejoin proceedings.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Shahid Khaqan Abbasi underlined the need for moving on to direct taxes to remove the growing disparity between direct and indirect taxes. He said that additional indirect taxes that would produce Rs 200 billion in revenue had been included in the budget. This, Abbasi said, would have a direct impact on the poor people of the country.
Although as many as 29 MNAs took part in the discussion on the budgetary proposals, the low attendance – 30 members at the outset of the sitting and 26 at adjournment – reflected the MNAs’ lack of interest in the proposed budget. However, all minority members were present during the 12th sitting of the National Assembly.