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> Go beyond Constituencies in Budget Debate, Punjab MPAs told
  1. Enlarge the tax-base
  2. Give Powers to Committees to scrutinize Budget
  3. Implement agricultural income-tax
  4. Get electronic and print media to cover substance of speeches better
Briefing Session
June 13, 2011

Download Brief [PDF]
Download Consolidated Report [PDF]

Lahore, June 13, 2011: Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan, MPA, Speaker Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, agreed to the proposal that subject-wise groups of MPAs should participate in the budget debate in the Punjab Assembly. He was presiding over the PILDAT briefing session on How to Effectively Participate in the Budget Debate scheduled ahead of the start of the budget debate in the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab. He was responding to a suggestion by former Finance Minister Tanvir Ashraf Kaira, MPA that instead of every MPA repeating each topic, groups of 10 MPAs should prepare their budget analysis on one or other topic and discuss it threadbare.


The Speaker stressed that in order to be self-reliant, there is need to enlarge the tax-base in Pakistan and urged MPAs to be in the forefront of a drive to pay more taxes. He highlighted that the Punjab Assembly was the first provincial legislature to have amended its Rules of Procedure to institutionalize Pre-Budget debate.


Other Speakers stressed MPAs need to more effectively scrutinise budget and while doing so, give suggestions on policy priorities instead of just focusing on the budget. MPAs also demanded a greater role for Standing Committees in reviewing budget and demands for grants while Mr. Mujib-ur-Rehman Shami highlighted that reforms in Provincial Budget Process need to emulate the Indian model where Parliamentary Committees review budget for their departments and ministries and budget duration runs into months.


Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan, MPA, Speaker Provincial Assembly of the Punjab was joined by a panel of speakers at the Briefing Session that included Mr. Tanvir Ashraf Kaira, MPA, former Finance Minister Punjab, Mr. Mohsin Khan Leghari, MPA, Mr. Mujib-ur-Rehman Shami, senior analyst and media person and Mr. Nohman Ishtiaq, Public Financial Expert.


Earlier, Mr. Nohman Ishtiaq, Financial Expert, analyzed the Provincial Budget and gave a presentation to the Members of the Provincial Assembly. Highlighting the budget he said that there are two major aspects of the budget: Development Budget and the Recurrent Budget. He stressed upon the Members that they should know the policy behind the budget to effectively contribute in the budget session. Presenting economic atmosphere in which budget is prepared he said that GDP has decreased from 5.8% in 2005 to 2.4% in 2010. Inflation has increased in double digits from 7.9% in 2005 to 15.5% in 2010. Investment in terms of GDP has fallen from 22.14% in 2005 to 13.4% in 2010. Talking to the MPAs he said that Federal Government needs provincial help to minimize country’s fiscal deficit. He highlighted that the Federal and Provincial Governments lack an understanding of their respective roles after the passage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment and the NFC Award and there is need for a consensus on this through the Council of Common Interests.


Mr. Tanvir Ashraf Kaira, MPA, appreciated the timing of the session and said that this will help MPAs prepare for debating the budget. He said that for the first the opposition in the Punjab assembly presented a shadow budget. The Government should have a multi-year strategy while focusing on one particular year. He was critical of the current budget citing that the revenue targets have been reduced inspite of inclusion of new taxes. He was of the opinion that the supplementary grants should be minimized and ADP monitoring should be on line so that the MPAs can keep them abreast with the flow of the budget. He stressed that it is only MPAs who can assert themselves to play a more active role in influencing budget.


Mr. Muhammad Mohsin Khan Leghari, MPA while speaking on the occasion said that we should not only focus on the development side of the budget and focus on our constituencies but look at long-term policies. Suggestions from the Opposition benches should also be included in the budget given through pre-budget debate and post-budget debate. Opposition too should appreciate positive aspects and policies behind budget and make useful suggestions. He further stressed that the Committees of the House should be made more effective and their role in the budget making process should be enhanced.


Representing the media, Mr. Mujib-ur-Rehman Shami, Editor-in-Chief Daily Pakistan said that the Budget session is now of a lesser importance due to lack of substance in the legislators’ speeches. The Government should make sure that the budget session is telecast live so that the people can know what is actually included in the budget without waiting for the next day’s newspaper. Newspapers too should be asked to devote at least 1 page each of budget debates in the Assembly. He further said that the budget speech should not be limited to numbers but they should include every detail related to the budget that affects peoples lives. He believed that a legislator can contribute effectively within 10 minutes during the budget session. He advised that legislators should learn from the implementation of the last budget and contribute accordingly in the current session.


Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint Director PILDAT, introduced and conducted the briefing. Members of Provincial Assembly of the Punjab from major political parties joined the briefing.

PILDAT prepared and disseminated two papers at the Briefing Session for the benefit of MPAs which included:

  1. Main Contours of Punjab Budget 2011-2012
  2. Consolidated Report Pre-Budget Session in the Provincial Assembly of Punjab: January 17-24, 2011

The Briefing Session was organised by PILDAT under the project Parliamentary and Political Party Strengthening-II which is funded through Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade – DFAIT. The project is implemented jointly by the Parliamentary Centre, Canada and PILDAT.