Govt Faces Uphill Battle To Pass Federal Budget

Opposition seeks to counter the government's budgetary proposals; term it an anti-people budget

Govt Faces Uphill Battle To Pass Federal Budget

The coalition government is set to present the federal budget on June 12. However, the opposition is gearing up to spoil that party and strongly resist the budgetary proposals of the treasury benches. 

The opposition parties have planned strong, vociferous protests throughout the budget session in which the government is expected to table the finance bill for the fiscal year 2024-25. 

Between being presented in the assembly on June 12 and the end of the fiscal year at the end of June, the bill will be debated in the lower and upper houses of Parliament. It will be subject to the passing and rejection of the cut-motion phase before adopting or rejecting recommendations from lawmakers.

The parliamentary leader of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is expected to hold a meeting with the parliamentary leaders of coalition partners to urge them to ensure the presence of their respective members during the budget session and ensure the government's economic measures for the next 12 months pass smoothly.

Key among the government's budgetary proposals are steps to comply with requirements to secure another bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 

The government hopes that if it can muster its full strength, it can defend its budgetary proposals against the opposition in the lower house of Parliament. During the budget session, rejecting cut motions introduced by the opposition often require the maximum strength of the treasury benches. If the government fails to defend against the cut motion during a budget session, it can be sent packing. According to parliamentary rules, a cut motion is a special power vested in members of the National Assembly whereby they can oppose a demand for money being discussed for a specific allocation by the government in the demand for grants as part of the finance bill. 

"If the (cut) motion is adopted, it amounts to a no-confidence vote. And if the government fails to jot up numbers in the lower house, it is obliged to resign according to the norms of the house," read the rules.

The opposition in the current National Assembly has never failed to stage a protest during a sitting and has consistently raised the issue of electoral rigging.

Now, they have chalked out a strategy to oppose government proposals by registering a strong protest. 

"We will not allow any anti-people proposal in the house at any cost," said a senior member of the opposition and former National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser while talking to The Friday Times.

"This government will see a novel protest."

Qaiser said that by June 12, the government would find it difficult to pass budgetary proposals in the house.

"The masses are with us, and we will raise their voices inside and outside the parliament," Qaiser said.

Sources said the opposition benches had devised a strategy to disrupt proceedings with support from its allies and some dissidents on the treasury benches to oppose budgetary measures.