Govt, Opp clash over non-elected cabinet members

NA informed information technology, services exempted from income tax till June 2025

By: 24 News      Published: 03:36 PM, 31 Jan, 2020
National Assembly of Pakistan

The business was as usual in National Assembly on Friday as the House witnessed another heated debate between the treasury and the opposition members over presence of non-elected people in the federal cabinet.

PPP MNA Agha Rafiullah took exception to appointment of non-elected people as advisers. He argued that non-elected people were hired as there were no competent people in PTI’s elected lot.

In response, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Muhammad Ali Khan said Federal Cabinet as per the Constitution could have up to 49 members but the strength of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Cabinet members was 32.

The minister reminded the opposition that during PPP’s government former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had 35 ministers, Raja Pervez Ashraf 32 and Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet had 20 ministers. “PML-N and PPP must explain why they appointed non-elected people as advisers and assistants,” he asked.

Venting his anger on inflated electricity bills, PTI MNA on a point of order maintained that industrialists and traders were being sent excessive power bills. The rates applied were not the same as agreed by the government, he added.

He said businesses were observing strikes in Faisalabad and if the government did not take any step quickly many people would be rendered jobless.

Meanwhile the house was informed that government has exempted Information Technology and IT-enabled services from income tax till June 2025 to bolster their exports.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan told the house during question hour that the IT is emerging as a vital organ of our national economy and government is paying a great deal of heed to promote this sector.

He said two IT Parks are being established in Pakistan with the cooperation of the Korean government. He said work on the first IT Park in Islamabad has already been started whilst the second IT Park will be established in Karachi to further strengthen this sector.

The minister informed the house that two million applications have so far been received under Naya Pakistan Housing project.  He said under this mega project loans will be given to the poorest segments of the society to build their houses without charging any interest from them as the government will incur this cost.

BISP not being renamed

The minister clarified that BISP is not being renamed. He said the government has started a comprehensive Ehsaas Programme and enhanced its allocations to Rs190 billion from Rs100 billion. He said under this initiative several programmes were being launched for the poor segments of the society.

He said the Information Commission has been made functional and it is addressing the appeals received under Right of Access to Information Act 2017.  He said since its establishment, the information commission has disposed of more than 100 appeals out of 265 received appeals.

Parliamentary Secretary for Education Wajiha Akram said that despite economic constraints, promotion of education including higher education is priority of the government. She said that initiatives such as Kamyab Jawan and Ehsaas Programs also envisage the component of education.

Responding to a calling attention notice, Minister for National Food Security Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar said a plan of action has been prepared in coordination with the stakeholders to save the agriculture sector from the invasion of locusts. He said this plan will be executed in the next one and a half years at a cost of Rs7.30 billion. Rs5 billion will be provided by the federal government.

The minister said aerial sprays have been carried out in Sindh and South Punjab to save the crops from the attack of locusts. He said as a result of emergency measures, Kharif crop has been saved from these swarms.

Responding to another calling attention notice, Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan told the house that the government has enhanced the revenue of Pakistan International Airline to Rs146 billion whilst reducing its deficit from Rs29 billion in 2018 to Rs11 billion in 2019. He said efforts were afoot to bring improvement in the national flag carrier.

Five bills were introduced in the house. These included:  “The Anti-Terrorism Amendment bill 2020, The Post Office Cash Certificate (Amendment) Bill, 2020, The Post Office National Savings Certificate (Amendment) Bill, 2020, The Government Savings Bank (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and the Emigration (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

The house will now meet again on Monday at 4 pm.