The Rs7,294.9 billion budget for the fiscal year 2020-21 was okayed in the lower house of the Parliament on Monday.
It was approved after 160 MNAs voted in favour on the Section 9 of the finance bill, while 119 opposed it.
During Monday’s session, the government and opposition kept each other at an arm’s length since the beginning of the session. Members of the opposition walked out as soon as Communications Minister Murad Saeed began addressing the assembly.
Saeed recalled Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s last speech in which the latter had challenged Prime Minister Imran Khan for a live debate. Calling himself “a soldier of Imran Khan”, the minister said he was enough to take on the PPP chairman.
“Choose an anchorperson of your choice and lets debate wherever and whenever you want to,” he said.
Saeed recalled the US drone attacks in Pakistan that conducted when Asif Ali Zardari was the president. “They (PPP) call terrorism whatever the US calls terrorism. They allowed the US to conduct drone attacks and then condemned those attacks too,” he said.
After seeing the opposition walking out, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser asked Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to persuade them to return. At this, Saeed retorted that the opposition members would come back right after his speech.
Meanwhile, PML-N leader Khawaja Asif said he was told by someone that the government forcefully brought the treasury members suffering from coronavirus infection to the Parliament. He said the government will do anything to get its federal budget approved.
Last week, the federal government came under fire for increasing the petrol price by Rs25 per litre. Opposition leaders had said the world was focusing on giving relief to its people amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the PTI government had dropped a “petrol bomb” in Pakistan.
In his address, Industries and Production Minister Hammad Azhar justified the surge in petrol prices. He said the prices have been varying in accordance with the international market.
“When oil prices had nosedived, we decreased prices,” Azhar said. “Now, when they’ve shot up twice as much the actual price, we’ve done a modest hike in prices without increasing the taxes.”
He said the PML-N, whose leaders are criticising the PTI, had itself increased petrol prices by Rs35 per litre in its tenure.