Speaker of National Assembly (NA) Asad Qaiser from PTI and PML-N Secretary-General Ahsan Iqbal argued over the recounting of votes. Thursday, the government bulldozed the Finance (Supplementary) Bill 2021 and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) amendments despite Opposition protest.
During the NA session, Ahsan Iqbal and Asad Qaiser indulged in a heated argument as the latter refused a recount. Ahsan Iqbal told Asad Qaiser that the Opposition challenged the count, however, the speaker did not listen.
“We challenged the count on the amendments. You overruled it, or you did not listen or you consider our demand against the rules,” Ahsan Iqbal said to Asad Qaiser. To clarify, the Opposition had demanded a physical vote count on several amendments.
At this, Asad Qaiser hit back saying that he had the right to refuse a vote count due to Rule 29 of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly. Asad Qaiser also said that the count has already been done once.
However, Ahsan Iqbal denied that no count had been done. He also kept on urging that according to the same rules, if a member challenges a count, then there needs to be a recount.
“If we want, we can challenge every motion and a count has to be made if we demand a count,” Ahsan Iqbal said.
Adviser to Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan then joined in and said the count had been done twice. He also expressed support for the Speaker’s ruling.
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Interestingly, Ayaz Sadiq, former NA Speaker also urged Asad Qaiser to order a recount.
“Do not disrespect the House. They are the representatives of the people. If you do not allow a recount then it means you are bulldozing the bills. What is the government afraid of? The sky will not fall if you allow a recount. You will only be giving the members their due rights,” Ayaz Sadiq urged the NA speaker.
Important to note, the NA rejected all of the Opposition’s amendments to the finance bill. When voting first took place, 150 members voted in favor of the amendments, while 168 voted against them. Upon a recount due to the Opposition’s objections, 146 votes counted in favor of the amendments, and 163 counted against them. As a result, the government won an edge of 18 parliamentarians to pass the bill.
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According to the Opposition, the Finance Bill will further increase the tax burden on the population. They also expressed concerns that the SBP amendment will put the country’s sovereignty at stake.