Punjab Assembly: Speaker blocks resolution for probe into ‘Panama Leaks’

LAHORE: Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Iqbal on Monday blocked a resolution seeking probe into ‘Panama Leaks’ forcing the opposition to walk out of the house in protest.

Opposition leader Mian Mahmoodur Rashid wanted to table the resolution out of turn but law minister Rana Sanaullah asked him to give him its copy for amendment so that a joint resolution could be brought to the house.

But Rashid insisted on tabling the opposition’s resolution without any amendment. He requested the speaker to allow him to do so as treasury had the right to oppose it. Reminding the PML-N legislators of their party manifesto, Rashid said it had committed that it would take steps to bring back looted money from abroad.

“It (PML-N) should keep its words now,” he demanded.

But before the speaker disallowed him to table the resolution, the opposition leader read some of its contents.

“This house demands the federal government start investigation into allegations against 140 politicians and bureaucrats for transferring the looted money abroad.”

Not getting out-of-turn permission (to present the resolution) the opposition walked out of the house in protest and one of its members pointed out quorum. The proceedings resumed after the quorum completed in 30 minutes.

Later, talking to reporters outside the assembly, Rana Sanaullah termed the Panama Leaks as “Pajama Leaks”, saying these were mere media reports and not an “authentic document”.

Taking part in the pre-budget discussion in the house, the opposition leader requested the speaker to involve standing committees in the budget making.

“The 2016-17 budget should be made on the suggestions of the legislators instead of completely depending on bureaucracy. MPAs represent the public and they know the problems faced by the masses. Therefore, a budget based on their suggestions will be the best in the province’s history,” he added.

Mr Rashid asked the chair to ensure presence of finance minister in the house during the pre-budget debate.

“The minister should be here to tell the house that how come Punjab faces a debt of Rs580 billion,” he said.

The opposition leader criticised Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for retaining a number of portfolios and his policy of centralisation of power.

“The chief minister could not bring about change for last many years and will not in the years to come, until he devolves the power,” he said, adding that police needed to be depoliticised for improving their performance. An amount of Rs109 billion was allocated for Punjab police in the last budget but their performance could not be improved as there had been a surge of 60 per cent in crimes, he added.

He asked the chief minister that why the local government funds were being used for other projects. “The local body polls had held some three months ago but the governments have not been formed as yet,” he said.

Mr Rashid also drew the attention of Punjab government towards over 10 million out-of-school children. “Make short and long term policy to deal with this matter. The government must announce education emergency without any further delay,” he demanded and added the government should introduce a uniform syllabus in both public and and private schools. Seminaries should also be brought in the mainstream education setup. -DN

THE PASHTUN TIMES

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