PAT offers proposals for Punjab budget for fiscal year 2015-16

On the directions of PAT chief Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, Pakistan Awami Tehreek has given suggestions for upcoming budget for next fiscal year of the biggest province of Pakistan, Punjab. The suggestions were shared with media on behalf of central PAT President Dr Raheeq Ahmad Abbasi and President of PAT Punjab chapter Basharat Jaspal.

While offering suggestions, the PAT leaders said that the South Punjab should be made a spate province, minimum wage for labourers and workers should be Rs. 20,000 and 50% raise should be given in the salaries of the government employees. They said that the government should treat the pensioners and those living off on the saving schemes as human beings. They demanded the profit margin of saving schemes should be increased in view of increase in ratio of price hike. They asked the provincial government to contact the federal government with this demand and the members of the provincial assembly should adopt a resolution for this purpose.

The PAT demanded that the farmers should be included in the procurement committees working at the level of a centre and the small farmers should be given subsidy on diesel and electricity. Budgetary allocation should be fixed for purchase of rice as is the case with wheat. The price of flour should be brought down at Rs. 10 per kg. Fair price shops should be opened in Punjab by doing away with such facades as Sunday and Ramzan Bazaars. The educated youth should be given a stipend equivalent to the basic salary of grade 16 Officer to stop the brain drain. Women should be given opportunities for higher education instead of giving them rickshaws and taxis. Allocation should be made in the budget to bring the religious seminaries into mainstream and promote peace. Punjab Police, which has been gobbling up a budget of Rs. 100 billion, should be reorganized and purged of politics.

The PAT leaders maintained that the PML-N spent Rs. 6000 billion in its seven year long stint but failed to achieve 100% targets in any department of public service. The attitude and conduct of the Punjab government on the core issue of terrorism is condemnable to say the least. The military courts have not been established in Punjab so far despite passage of three months since National Action Plan against terrorism was unveiled. It was provincial government’s responsibility to remove the obstacles hindering the functionally of the military courts but it has been playing the role of a silent spectator in this regard.

The PAT leaders further said that oppression and injustice has crossed all limits. The police waste no moment to unleash its brute force on the people when they seek justice for the wrongs inflicted on them. The coming onto streets of the farmers, clerks, teachers, lady health workers, labourers, and the blind people represents failure of governance system. The Chief Minister of Punjab should revise his mode of governance and surrender the power of IG Police, ministers and Patwaris. The Punjab Chief Minister has emerged as Chief Minister of Lahore during the last seven years. The governance centred around concentration of resources and power has failed miserably. PML-N is not letting the South Punjab become a separate province despite passage of a resolution in the Punjab Assembly. The Chief Minister is seen to be visiting South Punjab only when floods come or some Arab prince visits the area for hunting purpose. He should spend some time there to witness what the people have to face as they go about their burdensome lives.

Youth Wing President Shoaib Tahir, Women Wing President Razia Naveed, MSM President Irfan Yousaf, Lawyers Wing leaders Naeem-ud-Din, Ishtiaq Chaudhry and Nasir Advocate took part in the finalization of proposals.

The PAT leaders noted that people’s standard of living declined during PML-N’s 8-year long tenure; financial mismanagement and corruption registered an upward trend; the Punjab government miserably failed in achievement of Millennium Development Goals in respect of education; and people’s confidence in police took a nosedive due to Model Town, Youhanabad, and Kot Radhakishan tragedies.

It has been suggested that immediate steps should be taken for creation of new provinces including that of South Punjab for uniform development and prosperity in the Punjab province; police force should be reorganized and purged of politics; the services of army should be requested for training of police; and a separate unit should be established to arrest proclaimed offenders and carry out administration of justice.

On the question of anti-terror initiatives, the PAT leaders demanded that the military courts should be made functional immediately; the Punjab government should spend a whopping sum of Rs. 225 million on the protection of life and property of people instead of buying bullet-proof vehicles for the powerful. They further demanded that the names of 95 defunct organizations located in Punjab identified by the Federal Interior Minister in his report to the Prime Minister should be made public so that people could have stay away from them and their facilitators.

Commenting upon pending cases in Punjab, the PAT leaders noted that 1.2 million cases are pending in the Lahore High Court and district courts of the province. They said that the bench of LHC should be set up in every district to clear off the pendency of cases and administer justice to the litigants and the scope of sessions court should be restrict to the Tehsil level. Civil court should be established in every city having a population of 50,000 people. Legal aid cells should be established in every district for provision of support to the deserving people.

It was noted in the proposals on the health sector that over 600 basic health units are without doctors and other allied medical facilities in Punjab. The PAT leaders said that 8000 vacancies of doctors should be filled immediately. 25000 mothers die during delivery every year. The situation warrants that Ginny centre should be established at every union council level. There is one bed for 2700 citizens in Punjab. 10,000 more beds should be added in all the public sector hospitals in the province.

It was noted in the suggestions in respect of education sector that 46% of students of class 5 cannot read Urdu as mentioned in Annual Status of Education Report 2015. The Punjab Chief Minister should focus on quality instead of quantity. The PAT demanded that 147 government schools that have been handed over to an NGO in Lahore should be taken back immediately. If the Punjab chief minister can run metro with official funds, why cannot he run government schools with the resources of the provinces?

The PAT demanded that financial management of the province should be improved and standardized. It said that the report of Auditor General of Pakistan for fiscal year 2014 indicated that the government departments did not present a record of expenditure to the tune of Rs. 5000 million during audit of 16 provincial departments. The chief minister did not get Rs. 150 audited, which was given to the district governments despite letter written to him by the Auditor General. He got advertisement of alleged corruption of district Nazameens published in the newspapers. People now want to know how much of looted money was recovered and what action was taken against the corrupt elements?

The PAT has further noted that Rs. 30 billion was taken out of provincial kitty in the name of power generation but not even a single megawatt has been generated so far. The people want to know the reasons of failure on this count. The Punjab government is using police to humiliate and torture farmers instead of addressing their demands. In order to keep the prices of flour under check, it has been suggested that Rs. 100 billion which the food department owes should immediately be paid. The representatives of farmers should be included in the procurement committees to buy wheat from the farmers.