MNAs call for construction of dams to help overcome power crisis

Posted on June 17, 2011. Filed under: Energy crisis, Hydal |

JUNE 17, 2011

AGHA ALI RAZA

Both treasury and opposition members in the lower house of the parliament were unanimous on Thursday that construction of dams was vital to steer the country out of the electricity crisis. Taking part in the budget debate, Munir Orakzai was of the view that in present circumstances when the country was dependent on IMF, no better budget could be presented than the current one.

He urged the government to lessen its expenditures and also privatise those institutions running on losses. Lashing out at the role of NGOs in Fata, Munir said that these organisations were spending hefty amount on pays and other facilities to its officers and staffers while a small fraction of amount was being spent on the salaries of local teachers.

He regretted that despite announcement by the President and Prime Minister, cadet, medical and engineering colleges were not established in different agencies of Fata. He termed all the promises as verbal rhetoric, asking the government to take serious notice of the issue. He deplored that the martyrs’ fund for the Fata victims was less than the other provinces.

He observed that Fata could become self-reliant if the minerals were explored and utilised in a proper way. He further said that the government was engaged in dialogue to please US while it was the need of the hour to take care of masses. He said every member of NA and Senate should play his role for the uplift of Fata people. He called for setting up a trust for the victims of terrorism.

He also stressed the need of constructing dams to overcome the power crisis. Akhuwanzada Chitan said that government did not want increase in defence budget, but it raised the budget to ensure peace. He regretted that no heed was paid in the past to power crisis. He said incumbent government would construct dams and launch projects to overcome electricity crisis in the country.

He said that the government should allocate adequate funds and exploit Thar coal reserves to overcome energy crisis. He said that in the last year’s budget Rs 15 billion were given to Fata while only 30 percent of the amount was spent. He demanded that the amount should be taken back from Fata.

Rejecting the opposition’s criticism on the budgetary proposals, he said the opposition should rather give constructive recommendations for inclusion in the final budget document. Nauman Islam Shaikh termed the opposition’s criticism as unjustified. He said that incumbent government had adopted the policy of reconciliation by inviting all political forces to sit together to steer the country out of multiple crises.

He said the government had presented a balanced budget despite difficult circumstances. He said that increase in salaries and pensions besides reduction in GST would certainly give relief to the people. He asked the members to rise above their political affiliation to surmount the challenges being faced by the country.

Nafisa Shah said it was unprecedented that the cost incurred on floods and war on terrorism had been made part of the budget. She proposed the government to focus on education and health sectors to bring a positive change in the society. She said the National Commission for Human Development had been devolved under the 18th Amendment and responsibility rests with the provinces to oversee its performance.

Sardar Mansab Ali Dogar said it was the fourth budget being presented with the foreign debts. He criticised the government for imposing GST on agriculture inputs saying it would not be beneficial for the sector, which was the backbone of our economy.

Rai Mujtaba Kharal said that government presented a good budget by increasing salaries. He said that by presenting a historic balanced budget the government has proved that it is alive to the situation and striving to extend maximum relief to the masses. He reminded that it is the present government, which passed the 18th amendment and gave greater autonomy to the provinces, which will strengthen the federation.

Malik Abrar said that there was no implementation on the suggestions forwarded during the last year. He said that the masses were asking how they would get the relief. He was also critical over the increasing prices of electricity and petroleum products.

Ejaz Jakhrani held the PML-N responsible for ongoing load shedding. He recalled that Benazir Bhutto had brought Rental Power Plants (RPPs) in 1993 but after that no power project was launched, which led to power crises. He demanded a compensation package for flood victims of his constituency. He welcomed reduction in general sales tax saying it will directly benefit the poor segment of the society. He said that the concerned authorities should enlarge its tax sector and seven hundred thousand affluent persons identified by the FBR should pay their taxes to turn around the economy. He suggested the government waived off loans of small farmers who are badly hit by last year’s floods.

Mufti Muhammad Ajmal said the government should check its excessive spending to divert the resources for the welfare of the people. He said efforts should be made to broaden the tax net, as it is imperative for the revival of the economy. He said that officials of impeccable character should be deputed in the state-owned enterprises to transform them into profitable entities.

Tasneem Siddiqui asked the government to work on war footing to overcome the energy crisis. He said the government should immediately release funds for the completion of on-going hydel projects. Raheela Yahya Baloch opposed levying of tax on the agriculture saying the government should rather give subsidies to the farmers to ensure food security.

Bushra Gohar said the government should impose only direct taxes as indirect taxes are adding to the problems of the poor people. She said the government should check its fiscal deficit as it is ultimately affecting the lives of the poor people. She said everyone talks about the controversial Kala Bagh Dam, adding they do not talk about the Tangi and Munda dams.

Sajid Ahmad said more resources should be allocated for the education sector to deal with the mindset of extremism and terrorism. He said cargo under Afghan Transit Trade Agreement should be transported through Railways, as it will help make the entity profitable. He said special steps should also be taken for the welfare of overseas Pakistanis who are greatly contributing to the economy by sending remittances back home.

Pir Haider Alli Shah said the terrorism is the biggest challenge faced by the country today but regrettably the government has not taken any concrete steps to deal with it. He asked the government to take on board all the stakeholders to defeat the menace. He said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province produces 6000 MW electricity while only 2000 MW is given to it which were insufficient to meet the demands.

Ghulam Mustafa rejected the impression that the agriculturists are not paying taxes. He said the farmers are ready to pay tax but the federal government should also evolve a transparent policy in this regard. Begum Ishrat Ashraf said that despite passage of three years government has provided no relief to the poor in power sector. She said due to rising inflation it has become difficult for the people to make both ends meet.

Mehboobullah Jan said that besides hydel projects the government should also focus on other resources to provide cheap electricity to the domestic consumers and industrial units.

Sardar Saleem Haider recommended the government to enhance the minimum wage to ten thousand from seven thousand rupees. He said that profit on national savings should also be increased to benefit the account holders mainly widows and pensioners. Tariq Fazal Chaudhry said the government should take serious steps towards the resolution of problems and implement the resolutions passed by the parliament.

Pervez Khan Advocate while participating in the debate said that the Higher Education Commission is a provincial subject now and allocation of funds for it in the federal budget is in total disregard to the constitution. He regretted that the budget envisages no funds to deal with any future natural calamity. Syed Imran Ahmed Shah asked the government to reject foreign assistance and take the country towards self-reliance. He demanded of the government to take steps for halting drone attacks.

Criticising the previous regimes for abandoning the Thar coal project, Mir Munawar Ali Talpur said it is the present government that resumed work on this important project to generate thousands of megawatt of electricity. He said priority should be given to the development of Balochsitan and Sindh to remove the grievances of the people.

Minister for Health Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada said all of us should respect the defenders of the borders, as casting doubts on them is not in the interest of the country. He said the joint resolution passed by the parliament is the voice of the people and its implementation is imperative for the sanctity of this House.

Terming the budget as people-friendly, Farhat Khan said the government is striving to improve the lot of the poor people through a number of initiatives. Shaheen Ishfaq described the budget as unbalanced and anti-people and said the government miserably failed to provide relief to the people. She said instead of cutting its expenditures the government has passed on the burden to the people.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2011

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