Budget debate in Senate: Senator hits out at own party for neglecting agriculture sector

June 14, 2014

ALI HUSSAIN- BR Report

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A senator of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Muhammad Hamza, on Friday lashed out at his own party government for ignoring the agriculture sector in the federal budget while lawmakers belonging to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa decried shelving various uplift projects of the terror-hit province.

The senators belonging to treasury benches, who declined to take part in proceedings of the house in protest against the alleged biased attitude of deputy chairman Sabir Ali Baloch on Thursday, however, ended their protest after getting assurance from the chair. Leader of the House Raja Zafar-ul-Haq and PML-N parliamentary leader Mushahidullah Khan had protested in the house when the deputy chairman referred a privilege motion moved by Senator Saifullah Magsi regarding an alleged misbehaviour by Islamabad police on the eve of Prime Minister’s recent visit to Parliament Lodges.

“As the motion has already been referred to the committee and it has nothing to do with the Prime Minister and if the committee deemed necessary, action will be taken against the police personnel only,” Baloch said while explaining his position. Taking party in the debate on the budget, PML-N Senator M Hamza criticised government for neglecting the agriculture sector, which is considered as backbone of the country’s economy.

“The budget indicates that agriculture sector is not government priority otherwise measures would have been taken for its improvement,” he regretted, adding on one side the prices of fertilizer is too high and on other hand the farmers were confronting a lot of problems to get the commodity at the time of sowing.

Referring to the crops insurance scheme for major crops in the budget, he was of the opinion that the government would not be able to achieve the desired goals. He suggested that the government should ensure the availability of agriculture inputs at reasonable prices at right time so that the country may put on the path of development and prosperity. He called upon the government to construct more small dams to overcome water shortage and control prolonged loadshedding.

However, he said that the economy showed positive indicators as GDP growth rose to 4.14 percent during last one year while it remained at three percent during the last five years. Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) senator from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Haji Ghulam Ali, while taking part in the debate blamed the federal government, of which his party is also a coalition partner, that majority of developmental schemes in the KP, which is the worst victims of terrorism, were either neglected or meager allocations were made.

He demanded special package should be announced for the terrorism-hit KP, which is the front-line province against the terrorism. Referring to Lawari Tunnel, he said the required amount was Rs 900 million but the government allocated Rs 200 million, which means that the project will delay for another five years and the people of Chitral will be cut off for about four months from rest of the country due to heavy snow fall. He also regretted that little allocation has been made for hydel power generation project in district Kohistan, which can generate 2100MW cheaper power.

He urged the federal government to treat Khyber Pakhtunkhwa the same way it is making allocations to various projects in Lahore so that deprivation of small provinces may be removed. Awami National Party (ANP’s) Senator Abdul Nabi Bangash described the budget as ‘pro-elite’, saying that it has nothing for the common man. He was of the view that the hydel power generation potential of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was not being exploited intentionally and no proper allocation has been made in the budget.

He also alleged the PML-N government for sabotaging the reconciliation policy adopted by the PPP-led coalition government. PML-N’s Nuzhat Sadiq said the present government has started several projects for the empowerment and employment of the youth. She said Rs 21 billion have been allocated for these schemes. She said a national health insurance scheme has been launched for poorest of the poor, which will target one hundred million people. She claimed that the schemes like youth loan scheme, PM fee reimbursement scheme for poor, Laptop scheme, PM Youth Training Scheme and PM Skill Development Scheme would help people in raising their living standard.

The Senate also referred a privilege motion to the committee concerned which was moved by Abdul Nabi Bangash against chairman CDA and member planning for cancelling a scheduled meeting without taking the senators into confidence. On a point of order, PPP Senator Abdul Qayyum Soomro said that there were security threats to parliament lodges and appropriate measures should be taken. He further demanded security for Zardari House situated in F-8 Markaz. Responding the point of order, leader of the house Raja Zafar ul Haq assured the house that he would approach the Interior Ministry to further beef up security arrangements at parliamentary lodges. ANP’s Senator Afrasiab Khattak, while speaking on a point of order, paid rich tribute to the late Baloch leader Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri, who recently passed away at a Karachi hospital.

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