Home Global Village Why did Bilawal label government’s full-year budget illegal and a pre-poll rigging

Why did Bilawal label government’s full-year budget illegal and a pre-poll rigging

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Echoing the concerns shared by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah after the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has termed the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) move to present the record 6th-year budge; illegal and an attempt at pre-poll rigging.

PPP has decided to oppose the incumbent government’s move to present the budget for the full fiscal year. “We [PPP] will be opposing these [undemocratic and unconstitutional] steps in parliament. This is our democratic right and principled position,” Bilawal said.

The incumbent government has only a month left and it ceases its operations at the end of May, therefore, it has no reason or authority to present the budget for the full fiscal year.  Under the constitution of Pakistan, the government can only present the budget for five-years, Bilawal remarked.

Speaking at a press conference, PPP chairman urged the PML-N government to present the budget only for three months. He also criticized the government for not presenting any new development schemes and sizeable funds to support on-going projects.

PML-N is in crises. Under such circumstances, to woe the voters and gain political ascendency, the government has decided to present a populist budget, which is arguably a tool which can be termed pre-poll rigging.  

PPP complained against non-inclusion of provincial projects in the federal Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). Same rhetoric is repeated by the top tier leadership. But, the government denies it. Elaborating the government stance, number of ministers argued that under 18th amendment, provinces are responsible for their own respective provinces and have no constitutional authority to dictate center and PSDP is approved by parliament, not NEC.

Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance and Revenue Dr. Miftah Ismail downplayed the allegations, and said that 95% of the projects which are part of PSDP are old schemes already in process or the ones which were part of the outgoing budget, but were not started.

Read more: PTI rules out alliance with PML-N and PPP

Nevertheless, Bilawal’s concerns are credible to the extent that under this budget, development projects are not focused. Because the government is not willing to take chance by presenting another development budget in election year, as it did last year.

Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaf (PTI) had also shown similar concerns. In the joint press conference after walking out of the NEC meeting, CM, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pervez Khatak said the government should pass a budget for an interim period and the next government can present the budget for remaining fiscal year. The same practice will be possibly repeated in Sindh, and KP, where the only interim budget for 3-months will be presented. The government has no democratic right to present the budget for a full year and snatch. the rights of the next parliament without having a mandate.

In an unprecedented move, the government is presenting the budget for record 6th time. Apparently, it looks illegal. But, why get into another controversy?

PPP chairman urged the PML-N government to present the budget only for three months.  He also criticized the government for not presenting any new development schemes and sizeable funds to support on-going projects.

Since PML-N is mired in unprecedented political scandals and corruption cases. Ousted Nawaz Sharif is banned for life from contesting elections, he faces the jail term, if proven guilty in accountability court. His sons are declared absconders. Maryam Nawaz and Captain retired Safdar are facing accountability court cases.

Shehbaz Sharif, and his son in law Imran are under investigation for possible embezzlement, illegal appointments and accumulating assets beyond means.  Railway minister Khawaja Saad Rafique is in serious trouble as National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has opened another inquiry after Paragon society scam. Interior minister Ahsan Iqbal had recently alleged that NAB is involved in pre-poll rigging and suddenly became active only months before the 2018 general elections. But, is it a uni-directional activism?

NAB had also opened the cases against the leaders of PPP and PTI NAB started a probe against the senior PTI leader Aleem Khan, CM Pervez Khattak So, should PTI call this a pre-poll rigging? Is presenting a populist budget for full-year without having mandate not a pre-poll rigging?

Read more: Ch. Nisar won’t join PTI, here’s why

At the beginning of this year, Pakistan had refused European grant of €15 million proposed for Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and election monitoring bodies, fearing that it could compromise its sovereignty and national security. The government opposed the draft from EU and failed to reach an agreement which could potentially ensure transparent polls.

Apparently, the government was not willing to improve the electoral policies. Because it could be a major tool in removing the irregularities in operational capabilities of the election commission. Was it not a pre-poll rigging? Was spending huge sums of exchequers money in constituencies not a sort of pre-poll rigging?

PML-N is in crises. Under such circumstances, to woe the voters and gain political ascendency, the government has decided to present a populist budget, which is arguably a tool which can be termed pre-poll rigging.


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