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Budget of Another Country: Opposition vows to oppose budget, rejects govt’s narrative of economic growth

How could the economy improve when “the poor is dying, he can’t get bread for a one-time meal.”

On Friday, opposition leaders came together in order to reject the government’s stance on economic growth and development in the budget session. Their aim was to give the government a “tough time” over the federal budget for the fiscal year 2021-22.

“All opposition parties in parliament have decided we will give a tough time to the government and expose it, the false figures they’ve shown and the distortion [in numbers] they’ve done.”

After the National Assembly budget session, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif alongside PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari while speaking to the media in Islamabad said.

He questioned the government’s narrative on the state of the economy, that how could the economy improve when “the poor [man] is dying, he can’t get bread for a one-time meal, there is a wave of poverty and unemployment in the country.”

Shehbaz said these issues would be jointly addressed in parliament and “we will give a tough time to the government in passing the budget.”

Bilawal said that today’s budget did not align with reality, claiming that even people listening to the speech would’ve thought it was the budget of another country.

He said the prime minister and finance minister’s stance, of economic development while the country was facing “historic poverty, unemployment and inflation”, held no weight and was akin to “rubbing salt into the wounds of the people of Pakistan who are suffering.”

“We think the differences of the opposition and other political parties have their own place [but] we have to challenge this budget and unqualified, unfit, and selected government together. As I promised in front of you, we are unconditionally giving all the votes of the PPP MNAs against this budget to Leader of the Opposition (in the National Assembly) Shehbaz Sharif to use against this government.”

While expressing his support for a united opposition, the PPP chairman said.

Last week, Bilawal had said the PPP would support Shehbaz on the budget despite the inappropriate behaviour of some PML-N members.

“I unconditionally say to Shehbaz Sharif in front of the media that all PPP members will be in your support with regards to the parliament and this [upcoming] budget despite the tantrums [of some PML-N members].”

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, he had said.

Prior to the budget session today, Bilawal chaired a meeting of the PPP parliamentary committee to decide the party’s strategy for the session. He had directed PPP MNAs to give a “tough time” to the government, saying the PTI had devised an “anti-poor”, “political” and “selected” budget.

Lamenting the government’s proposed 10 percent salary increase in the budget, he said “at least an increase of 30pc [in salaries] should’ve been done […] and the minimum wage should’ve at least been increased to Rs25,000.”

He said it was the entire opposition’s demand that injustice with government employees and white-collar workers would not be tolerated, adding that “we will raise your demands on the floor of the house and will do whatever is possible of us to stop this budget.”

Meanwhile, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal also lashed out at the government’s proposed 10pc increase in salaries, terming it the “worst joke” and akin to “rubbing salt on their (salaried class) wounds”.

“We reject it,” he said, adding that at least a 25pc increase in salaries should’ve been done to compensate for no increase in the past three years.

Palwasha Khattak
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