Budget triggered storm of indirect taxes on public, claims Bilawal
Calls government ‘liar’, budget pack of lies: Blasts opening of TP Link Canal ignoring Sindh’s request for closure: Dubs budget sans NFC award illegal: If economy has improved, then govt should quit IMF deal: In response, Hammad Azhar harps on corruption mantra
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Calling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government a ‘liar’, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on Friday that the budget it had presented for the financial year, 2021-22 was also a ‘pack of lies’, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
Speaking at the National Assembly (NA), Bilawal said, “The growth rate you have projected in the money bill at 4 percent has nothing to do with the reality. The budget has triggered a storm of indirect taxes on people. You have left them helpless. You keep saying ‘Ihsas, Ihsas’ (sympathy), but you have no sympathy with the masses.”
Bilawal further said that what had been happening in the National Assembly for the past few days was now all part of record, being recorded by the foreign embassies.
“The events of the last few days have exposed the government,” he said, and questioned, “If the government has taken it upon itself to behave like an opposition, then who will run the country?”
Bilawal said any attempt to edit his speech would fail. “You will have to listen to each and every word of my speech,” he said resolutely.
Bilawal said that contrary to the federal government’s promise with the Sindh government that there would be no discharge of water from the TP-Link Canal, water was released. “If the province’s Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah will not protest against ‘injustices’ being done to the province, then who else will. Donald Trump?,” he asked.
The PPP chairman said it was strange that when the Sindh government demanded the province’s share under the NFC Award, it was accused of playing the ‘Sindh Card’.
“This is not only Sindh. The truth of the matter is that the Centre is usurping the rights of all the provinces,” he commented.
Bilawal said that both this budget and the budget session are illegal. He said that a person who cannot buy mother’s medicine by paying wages also knows that the claim of 4% growth is false. He said that there was a historic increase in poverty, a historic increase in unemployment, but there was a slight increase in the Benazir Income Program (BISP).
Bilawal said that if the government would play the role of opposition then who would run the government. He said that the government wanted the opposition not to get a chance and wanted the budget not to be revealed in front of the people.
The PPP chairman stated that the PTI government has failed to give the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award to the provinces, which is meant to distribute financial resources between the federal government and the provinces.
The PPP chairman said no new NFC award has been given till date; every budget will be unconstitutional till the NFC award is given.
He said Khursheed Shah, Khawaja Asif and Ali Wazir were not being brought in and that the people of their area were not participating in the budget, they were not represented although every member of the Assembly has the right to attend the budget session.
Bilawal warned against using the word “Madinah” for the illegitimate government saying that the people know that the 4 percent growth rate is a fraud.
Bilawal asked if the country has seen economic growth, as claimed by the PTI-led government, then why does it have to beg before the International Monetary Fund (IMF)?
"If the economy has significantly improved, then the government should immediately opt out of the IMF's deal," he said, adding "I think both this budget and the budget session are illegal," he remarked.
Referring to the preceding days of chaos in the NA, he claimed the melee in the house was actually an attempt by treasury members to bar the opposition from "exposing the PTIMF budget".
"They thought they could present their lie of four percent economic growth as the truth using such antics ... that opposition would not get a chance to speak and people would not realise that the entire budget is based on lies," he said.
"But they must realise that the people don't need the opposition's speech. They are already drowning in the tsunami of inflation that the government has brought on."
Acknowledging that there was inflation during the PPP's tenure as well, Bilawal said the difference between the then government and the incumbent government was that the former had not abandoned the people. "We introduced the revolutionary Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) but this government, on the other hand, harps on about the Ehsaa, when you have no realistion of the people's agony."
Regarding inflation, Bilawal said that the PTI government has made the lives of the people miserable and put them in a destitute condition. "The government has pushed the people below the poverty line and they will never forgive it," he said.
He highlighted that the government has raised the prices of petrol, gas, and electricity in the budget, putting burden on the common man. "Now, the people have to bear the burden of the government's incompetence," he said.
"The prime minister had promised to grant 10 million jobs to people, but on the contrary, even those who were previously employed have now been rendered jobless," he said.
Hammad Azhar responds
Taking the floor of the House to response to Bilawal’s speech, Federal Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar challenged that if the opposition is brave enough to listen to the truth then they should stay in the House till the end.
He criticised Bilawal for switching between English and Urdu during his speech, saying English skills are not enough to remove the stains of corruption from someone's character.
He stated that the PPP chairman delivered an immature speech on the budget and economic policies. He asked the opposition to go through the budget documents once again and point out what taxes, as they claim, have been levied in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
Azhar said that the rate of inflation was higher during the tenure of the PPP government, adding that it was the PPP that went to the IMF more than any other government in the past.
Shehbaz, Bilawal leave House
As Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar began his speech, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif began making his way out of the assembly, prompting the minister to challenge him to stay and hear him out. "If you are not cowards then remain in your seats and listen to what I have to say. If you have the strength to hear the truth, then listen to what I have to say," Azhar said, but the PML-N president did not react and exited the house.
A few minutes later, Bilawal Bhutto also went out of the House.