Budget presented in absence of PM

WEB DESK: For the first time ever in the parliamentary history of Pakistan, the federal government on Friday presented the Budget 2016-17 in the National Assembly in the absence of the Prime Minister.

Although there is no Constitutional lacuna to present or pass the budget in absence of the prime minister, yet the approval of Budget 2016-17 by the National Assembly in physical absence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is at the moment recuperating in London after open heart surgery has made parliamentary history in Pakistan.

The opposition parties neither criticised nor protested to the presentation of the Budget 2016-17 by Finance Minister, Muhammad Ishaq Dar in the Lower House of the Parliament. The opposition members listened to the entire Budget 2016-17 speech made by the Finance Minister without any protest and neither did they record a single word of criticism or protest.

For the first time ever during a federal budget speech no enthusiasm among the treasury benches and nor the opposition members was witnessed, including the House gallery as well and also most of the front row opposition and treasury member seats were vacant. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman, Imran Khan, the government allied Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Federal Minister Rana Tanveer Ahmed, Jahangir Khan Tareen and Dr Arif Alvi of the PTI and many other members were conspicuous by their absence in the House.

When Finance Minister Ishaq Dar stood to begin his budget speech, Opposition Leader Khursheed Ahmed Shah sought to take the floor, on this, the Speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq gave the floor to the Opposition Leader while the Finance Minister took his seat.

Opposition Leader Khursheed Ahmed Shah then, speaking on the floor of the National Assembly said, that under Article-160 of the Constitution, the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award should be held every five years and two years have passed, but the government did not call it. “Seven years have passed and the provinces have serious reservations and issues but the government is not calling the NFC Award which is violation of the Constitution,” he said.

The Opposition Leader also said that the ‘Panama Papers’ will also be mentioned in the Budget-2016-17. The NFC consists of representatives of the provinces and the federal government. It is tasked with coming up with a five-year agreement on how to distribute revenues from the federal divisible pool of taxes. The 9th NFC Award will decide on the formula to distribute revenues from fiscal year 2016 through the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020. -Business Recorder