June 10 , 2016
Senators for more authority to Senate on financial issues
ISLAMABAD: Senators on Friday underlined the need for granting the Upper House more authority to ensure transparency in financial issues especially pertaining to provinces.
Taking part in the budget debate Senator Muzzafar Hussain Shah of Pakistan Muslim League- Functional (PML-F) said that “Pakistan's constitutional structure is on the basis of federalism” but in practice things are different. The Senate is supposed to protect interest of provinces and this should be given more authority on financial matters especially related to provinces. Speaking about the Senate representation in the Public Accounts Committee, he emphasised that the Upper House of the Parliament should be granted representation in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to oversee financial matters related to Provinces effectively.
He demanded of the government to include recommendations to be given the by the Senate in the annual budget but "it is not being given attention". He said that agriculture sector was playing important role in the country's economy, adding the government should reduce import duty on agriculture sector-related machinery like tractors, harvesters and others to facilitate farmers aimed at increasing their agri-production by using tax free machinery.
The government should announce minimum support price for cotton or wheat after taking into consideration production cost adding irrigation system which was now in dilapidated condition, he mentioned. Senator Karim Khawaja of Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) said that efforts should be made to pass on blessings of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project to less developed areas of the country. Speaking on climate change issue, he said that climate change was a major challenge in the time to come but it had not been given allocations to address the challenges. Similarly, he was of the view that more funds should be allocated for development projects in Gilgit Baltistan as the area was ignored in terms of adequate funds in the PSDP.
He said that Science and Technology division should be given more funds to work out projects which could help overcome future challenges. Senator Babar Awan of PPP said indirect legislation was being made through finance bill and the same should be stopped. He said cabinet was collective responsible but concerned ministers stayed away from attending the proceedings of the Senate undermining importance of such debates.
Senator Sitara Ayaz of Awami National Party (ANP) was of the view that more programmes should be launched for masses including old age people. She said that financial resources should also be allocated for women development who effectively share their services towards socio-economic development process for the country. She said more funds should be allocated for the IDPs for their rehabilitation as they had rendered supreme sacrifices for the sake of country. She said smaller provinces should be given their due rights in order to end sense of deprivation among them and suggested for overcoming internal difference and making the country Asian Tiger.
Senator Taj Afridi from FATA underlined the need for holding pre-budget session by the finance minister before formal budget announcement. Appreciating the government for announcing pro-development budget he said that the government had taken measures for the country's socio-economic development.
He said the government had always allocated more funds for the communication sector and it gave motorway as gift to nation. The government's efforts against terrorism remained successful and peace has had been restored, he added. However, he added the prime minister should announce drastic measures to overcome budget deficit, suggesting efforts should be made to cut non-development expenditures.
He also underlined for diverting more resources for the uplift of education and health sectors which were presently not given priority due to allocation of less budget allocation, non-availability of teachers and doctors. He was of the view more funds should be allocated for initiating power projects in various parts of FATA where "natural water resources are available". He said the government should soon fill vacant posts of Levy Force to ensure peace in the area.
Senator M. Hamza appreciated the government budget saying it had positive aspects and economic indicators had improved. He said tax revenue had increased, funds for Pakistan Baitul Mal (PBM) and Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) had been enhanced which would go a long way in extending relief to common people. He was of the view to promote tax culture and discourage tax evasion in order to contribute towards national kitty and launch development projects for the people. He said more measures should be made for providing jobs to the country's youth which were considered as future leaders of a country.
He also lauded the government for launching interest-free loans for youth. Senator Khalida Parveen of PPP said the government could not succeed in achieving targets and economic indicators were not moving at fast pace. She said that "division between the poor and the rich is widening and there is a need bridge this gape through effective development schemes". Senator Mir Kabir said that it was a good omen that GDP growth had been recorded at 4.7 percent, adding the CPEC should also have benefits for the less developed areas of the country.
He was of the view that business complex should be established at Quetta and Gwadar where multi-national companies could set up their offices to invest in various projects. He also underlined the need for launching technical training programmes for youth of areas around Gwadar port in order to prepare them as a work force for the port for earning livelihood for their families.
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