By Ijaz Kakakhel
June 14, 2014
ISLAMABAD (Daily Times): Speaking during the budget debate on Friday in the Senate, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Senator M Hamza said the government has neglected the agriculture sector in the budget, which is considered the backbone of the economy.
He said the budget reveals that the agriculture sector is not government priority, because if it were, measures would have been taken for its improvement. He noted that on the one hand the prices of fertilisers are too high while on the other hand the farmers face tremendous problems in getting the commodity at the time of sowing. While noting that the government has announced crop insurance scheme for major crops, Hamza expressed apprehensions about its success.
He suggested the government ensure the availability of agriculture inputs at reasonable prices and at the right time so that the country could be put on the path of development and prosperity. The senator also called for construction of more small dams to overcome water shortage and also to get rid of prolonged load shedding. Overall, he said, the economy has shown positive signs, as the GDP has risen by 4.5 per cent during the last one year, while during the last five years it had remained at an average of 3 percent.
Meanwhile, blaming the federal government, JUI-F’s Senator Haji Ghulam Ali claimed that majority of the developmental schemes in the terrorism-hit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have either been neglected or not allocated sufficient funds. The Luwari Tunnel, he said, required Rs 900 million, but the government has allocated Rs 200 million, which means that the project will face delay of another five years, and the people of Chitral will be cut off for up to four months from the rest of the country due to heavy snowfall.
He said same is the case with hydropower projects in Kohistan District, which can generate 2,100MW of cheap power. Ali asked the government to make allocations to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at par with those made for projects in Lahore so that the sense of deprivation among smaller provinces could be removed. He also demanded special package for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to its front line role in the war on terror. Taking part in the budget debate, ANP’s Senator Abdul Nabi Bangash said the PML-N government has totally destroyed the reconciliation policy adopted by the PPP-led coalition government during the last five years.
He said hydropower generation potential of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was intentionally not being exploited, and no proper allocation has been made in the annual budget for this sector. meanwhile, ruling party’s Senator Nuzhat Sadiq claimed that the government has allocated Rs 21 billion for different youth-related schemes, which would enable them to create employment opportunities and bring a revolution in the country. These schemes were youth loan scheme, PM fee reimbursement scheme for poor, laptop scheme, PM Youth Training Scheme, PM Skill Development Scheme and many more. “Though there are various challenges for the government, but efforts have been made to improve the economy,” Nuzhat said. The Senate also adopted a privilege motion moved by ANP’s Senator Abdul Nabi Bangash against CDA chairman and member planning. He said both the officials give time for a meeting but cancel it at the last moment, which is a breach of his privilege.