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NA rejects poll funds bill again

DNA

ISLAMABAD, The National Assembly on Monday rejected a
money bill that the government had tabled again to seek funds for
conducting polls in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in line with Supreme
Court’s orders.

Federal Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar tabled the bill in the assembly.

After rejecting the Rs 21 billion supplementary grant motion, the siting
of the National Assembly has been adjourned to meet again at 12 noon on
Tuesday 18th April.

Earlier, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance has sent
the matter of the provision of Rs21 billion funds for the conduct of
elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa back to the National Assembly
for approval.

A meeting of the NA body on finance was held in Islamabad on Monday.

Speaking after the meeting, Federal Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar
maintained that the Supreme Court’s order will be implemented if the
National Assembly approves the provision of funds. “If the Assembly does
not approve it then it would be a constitutional mandate and a decision
will be taken under Article 184,” he added.

The law minister said that due to the seriousness of the matter, the
standing committee has ordered to table the issue before the assembly
again.

The meeting deliberated on the provision of funds for holding elections
in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as directed by the Supreme Court of
Pakistan.

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to
release Rs21 billion to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for
holding elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and send an
“appropriate communication” to this effect to the finance ministry by
April 17 (today).

Minister of State for Finance Ayesha Ghaus, SBP Deputy Governor Seema
Kamil, Deputy Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan, Federal
Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar and auditor general of Pakistan
participated in the meeting.

The law minister and AGP briefed the participants of the meeting.

The law minister told the meeting that the federal government’s
permission is sought for the use of every penny taken from the Federal
Consolidated Fund. He said that no funds were allocated in the federal
budget this fiscal. He said earlier, on the court order, the finance
ministry had presented a bill under the head of charged expenditures.
But the standing bodies of the National Assembly and the Senate rejected
the bill.

He said the apex court then asked the State Bank to get money from the
FCF. But the finance ministry will authorize it. He said the court
ordered to take approval of the fund later and put it under the head of
other expenditures.

But the law minister said that the constitution is superior and the
government would defend the constitution.

The law minister said that if need arises to get extra funds, then the
government could present a supplementary grant whose approval could be
taken afterwards. Tarar said if funds were to release, they should be
released as per the constitution.

Later, talking to 24News HD, the law minister said that there is no
conflict between the judiciary and the government on this issue.

If the National Assembly approved the fund, then the Supreme Court order
would be implemented and if the Assembly rejected it, then the decision
would be taken under Article 184, he added. He advised journalists to
have patience as ‘National Assembly is meeting in the evening today and
the matter will be put forward before it’.

During her talk with reporters after NA body meeting, Minister of State
for Finance and Revenue Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha said that finance ministry
will present a summary for the approval of funds to the federal cabinet.
She said the proper procedure would be followed as the ‘State Bank is
not authorized to use funds. The National Assembly will decide about the
release of funds’.

Without the approval of the parliament, no bill or budget has any legal
authenticity, she added.

She explained that the central bank could only allocate money but it
could not release it unless the finance division gives it permission.
And the finance division only acts on the orders of the federal cabinet,
she maintained.






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