ISLAMABAD: Leader of the Opposition Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah on Thursday stressed the need for strengthening democracy and ensuring supremacy of Parliament by working jointly to protect the country.
Resuming discussion on the federal budget, Khursheed Shah said only democracy could protect and strengthen Pakistan and the democracy was guarantee to strong federation.
He was of the view that the government should have upheld supremacy and sovereignty of the parliament, adding that the people who run away from the parliament disappeared from the political landscape.
“Pakistan is our country and it is joint responsibility to protect it. Every institution should also work in its ambit enshrined in the constitution,” he said.
Shah said the country could not become prosper till raising and debating various issues it has been confronting in the Parliament.
He said the opposition would never accept the budget but it was our right to give point of view. He regretted that ministers always remained absent from the house proceeding and did not bother to give importance to the parliament.
He said Pakistan People Party always struggled for the supremacy of the parliament and democracy in the country. However, he regretted that due importance was not being given to the parliament.
The opposition leader said that the country was facing challenges like rapid increase in population, environmental degradation, water scarcity, education and health problems and stressed that there was need to revise policies to take the country forward and counter these challenges.
Shah also pointed out to the water scarcity issues, saying that Pakistan had been threatened to be among water scarce countries, but no attention was being paid towards it. He also called for imposing water emergency in the country.
Regarding budget, Shah alleged that despite tax-free budget, taxes worth Rs 400 billion were imposed in the budget while only Rs184 billion relief was announced.
He said PPP government was severely criticized for imposing only Rs08-10 per liter levy on petroleum products by the then opposition party PML-N but now the government was going to impose Rs30 per liter levy on petroleum products.
He said the government employees always paid more tax than other people. PPP led government had carried out a survey and identified three million potential tax payers but the issue was politicized.
Shah said only 0.3 per cent people pay tax in the country, alleging that the government was not ready to impose taxes on elite class while poor people have continuously been over burdened.
He said his party had proposed to appoint chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) through parliament but due to vested interest, the government was not ready to accept it.
He alleged that the government borrowed trillion of rupees loans and a sum of Rs1600 billion interests was being paid on it.
Shah said every party’s manifesto contains welfare of poor at the top but despite enjoying five years in government, the incumbent government never bothered to fulfill their promises and commitment.
He said there should be political crime act under which political parties should be tried for not fulfilling their elections commitments and promises.
Shah also questioned decrease in tax collection from cigarette and tobacco industry. “Some Rs.114 billion tax was collected from cigarette in 2015 but it has reduced to Rs.79 billion in 2016-17,” he said.
He said that he brought this issue to the parliament and sought response of FBR or government in sharp decline in tax collection from the cigarette industry.
He also question, how Rs30 billion loss would be recovered.
Regarding unemployment, Shah said that the budget lack any concrete policy and plan to control unemployment in the country.
He said there was also huge gap between import and export bill resulting fiscal deficit.
He also criticized the government for tall claims to end power load-shedding in the country and alleged that more electricity was being pilferage in areas of Lahore Electric Supply Company than Sukkur and Hyderabad Electric Supply Companies.
He also criticized the government for reducing subsidy from Rs.8 billion to Rs.5 billion on agri tube wells electricity bills in Balochistan.
Shah said the losses of public sector enterprises had also surged to Rs.1200 billion from Rs.400 billion during the last five years.—APP