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NA passes finance bill having outlay of Rs. 2010 billion; ML-N’s MNA objects

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ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly has passed the Finance Bill 2008 thus approving the federal budget for the financial year 2008-09 having total outlay of 2010 billion rupees. The House passed the Bill with amendments proposed by the government to give effect to the Bill from 1st of July this year. Finance Minister Syed Naveed Qamar moved the motion in the House to pass the bill that was adopted by the House. Further More Member of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Ayaz Amir has objected approval of the finance bill demanding the increase in the number of Supreme Court judges from 16 to 29 here on Sunday.

The federal budget lays special emphasis on improving socio-economic conditions of the vulnerable groups, development of agriculture and manufacturing sector and restoring investors’ confidence aiming at giving new boost to the economic growth. It also aims at improving health and education sector facilities to the people at grass roots level besides further empowering women. The National Assembly for the first time adopted fifty-one proposals sent by the Senate out of seventy-six while it accepted a number of proposals to consider in principle. The Finance Minister did not put fifteen proposals of the Upper House in the National Assembly.

The federal government has set GDP growth target for the next financial year at 5.5 percent and containing inflation rate by twelve percent. It also aims at maintaining gross investment to GDP ratio to 25 percent and containing fiscal deficit to 4.7 percent. The federal government has given Public Sector Development programme worth about 550 billion rupees. Sixty-six billion rupees have been allocated for the development of water and power sector with short-term measures to increase 2200 megawatts powers in the national grid to overcome load-shedding.

A number of measures have been announced in the federal budget to improve socio-economic conditions of the masses including announcement of fifty billion rupees Benazir Income Support Programme and launching of twenty-eight billion rupees People’s Works Programme. The government has also announced twenty percent increase in salaries and pensions of government employees besides raise in conveyance allowance. The House also approved increase of vacancies of judges in the Supreme Court from 16 to 29.

No protest was registered till the approval of the increase in the number of judges from PML-N however the PML-N leader and MNA Ayaz Meer later, raising the disagreement, said that this is the first ever example in the history of the world to increase SC judges by approving finance bill in the National Assembly.

Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif said that the proposed constitutional package has yet to be produced, which is playing a trick with Assembly. Ayaz Amir while opposing the clause termed it as mockery of the constitution and highest judiciary saying it has been clearly indicated in the constitution that number of judges in the Supreme Court would be sixteen therefore this number could not be increased through Finance Bill. The finance bill proposed to increase SC judges from 16 to 29, which was presented by the Federal Minister for Finance Naveed Qamaar

The Finance Minister while responding to a point raised by Ayaz Amir of PML-N regarding increase of number of judges in the Supreme Court clarified that the said clause has been included in the Finance Bill on the proposal of former Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar. It is pertinent to mention that Ishaq Dar was cabinet member from PML-N, and he had resigned along with other ministers of the party when disagreement over judges’ restoration came forth. No member of PML-Q was present in the National Assembly. The House will meet again tomorrow at ten in the morning.-SANA

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