Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Monday tabled the Money Bill 2023 before the National Assembly (NA) to decide and discuss the allocation of funds for the Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) provincial assemblies elections.
Dar tabled the Bill titled ‘Charge Sum for General Election Provincial Assemblies of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Bill 2023’ in light of the cabinet decision during the 51st session of the National Assembly.
Setting the context for the Bill, the minister said: “This House passed a resolution in light of the multiple verdicts of the Supreme Court to assert that the Supreme Court majority decision of 4-3 has negated the suo motu notice.”
He said the House also emphasised upon the government not to implement the 3-0 decision of the apex court, which was a “minority verdict” and thus, should not be implemented in its resolution.
Dar underlined that the federal cabinet, in its recent meeting, deliberated on the SC verdict and decided that the apex court’s decision to allocate funds for provincial assembly elections in Punjab and K-P should be tabled before the House, which should make a decision on the matter.
He added that the SC in its decision had directed the government to provide Rs21 billion to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold provincial elections. “These elections would be held without general elections of the National Assembly, Sindh and Balochistan assemblies,” he said.
The Money Bill 2023 was tabled in the light of the government’s decision as per article 81-E of the Constitution, the minister added.
He vowed that the coalition government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, was determined to purge the country from the menace of terrorism and pull Pakistan out of its economic, political and constitutional crises so that prosperity and development would be the fate of the nation.
The Speaker announced that the Bill was automatically referred to the committee.
Ishaq Dar, in the preamble of his speech, mentioned that from July 2022 to the present, Pakistan has repaid $12 billion in foreign debt. “We are paying each foreign payment in time,” he said.
He furthered that the country has 9.6 billion foreign exchange reserves at present. “Pakistan reserves stand at a total of $9.60 billion — $4.10 billion available with the State Bank of Pakistan and $5.50 billion of commercial banks,” he added.
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The minister said that a strategy had been devised by the government to increase the country’s foreign exchange reserves to $13 billion by June 30.
He said that the government, under the leadership of PM Shehbaz, had also improved its relations with friendly countries and international partners.
Further, the finance minister said that the government had also taken measures to stop the illegal flight of capital from the country, which were showing encouraging signs. He said PM Shehbaz had recently announced austerity measures that would be adopted to control the country’s expenditures.
He said that the government had designed a policy to end un-targeted subsidies and provide targeted subsidies to deserving low-income people. He said that funds for the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) had also increased from Rs360 billion to Rs400 billion.
Dar said that the government believes in the supremacy of the Parliament and upholding the constitution and law of the land. He regretted that “Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf [PTI], under a planned conspiracy, tried to create constitutional and legal crises in the country”.