Amid criticism by opposition, NA okays Finance Bill 2020-21

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Amid strong criticism by the opposition parties, the National Assembly on Monday passed the federal budget for fiscal year 2020-21 with a majority vote.

Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar moved the Finance Bill 2020 to give effect to the financial proposals of the federal government for the year beginning on the first day of July 2020 and to amend certain laws. The House passed the Finance Bill 2020 after voting along with amendments. Prime Minister Imran Khan also attended the sitting and witnessed the process of passage of the bill.

As the process began, the speaker said that any amendment to remove an entire clause will not be acceptable. He made the statement after PPP’s Shazia Mari proposed amendment to remove an entire clause. After approval of the budget, the House adjourned the session until 11am on Tuesday (today).

The opposition had agreed to build a united front against the budget and made fiery speeches on national issues during the Monday’s session. PML-N leader Khawaja Asif also had a verbal spat with Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry. In his speech, Kh Asif criticised the prime minister for calling Osama Bin Laden a martyr. “May Allah save us from terrorists and their supporters.”

Fawad Chaudhry, however, interrupted the former defence minister’s speech by asking him to cut it short. “I will say such a thing about you that you will find it difficult to remain seated in this House,” said the PML-N lawmaker. Following the debacle, Chaudhry asked the NA speaker to make Asif rescind his statement and apologise.

During his speech, Asif, referring to terrorist attack on the Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi, said the country is united against terrorism. He added the prime minister’s statement on OBL damaged the measures Pakistan has undertaken against terrorism over the years.

The disgruntled opposition members walked out of the NA in protest during the speech of Federal Minister Murad Saeed. After which, the NA speaker tasked Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to conciliate with the opposition members. “When I end my speech, opposition will return by itself,” remarked Saeed, who were earlier chanting slogans against the budget.

Qureshi then took the floor to address the House, saying that he wants to ask something from the opposition. “Whenever Murad Saeed stands up to make a speech, why does the opposition run away?” he asked, adding that the opposition has warned that it will not let the budget get approved.

During the address of the foreign minister, the opposition members came back to the session over which Qureshi sarcastically attributed their return to Saeed’s ‘psychic’ abilities. The foreign minister, while denying the demand of the opposition, said that the prime minister will not resign as he has the mandate of the public.

The total size of the Budget 2020-21 passed on Monday is Rs 7,136 billion, 11% lower than the size of budget in 2019-20. The resource availability during 2020-21 has been estimated at Rs 6,314.9 billion against Rs 4,917.2 billion in the budget estimates of 2019-20.

2020-06-29 21:10:00

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