Pakistan’s Finance Minister has tabled a bill in Parliament seeking approval for election funds for Punjab Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Islamabad, Apr 10 (PTI) The Pakistan government on Monday tabled a bill in parliament to fund snap elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, following the Supreme Court’s directives, despite rejecting the Supreme Court’s verdict on the matter. .
Finance Minister Ishaq Dhar tabled the bill hours before the deadline given by the Supreme Court to disburse Rs 21 billion to the Election Commission to conduct the elections.
The Bill titled “Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Assemblies of General Elections Fees Bill 2023” was tabled in both houses of Parliament – the National Assembly and the Senate.
Last week, the Supreme Court ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECB) to pay 21 billion rupees by April 10 to conduct the elections.
Punjab will go to polls on May 14, but the date for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa polls is yet to be decided.
Despite the government’s rejection of the court’s ruling on the provincial assembly polls, the Cabinet meeting on Sunday decided to seek Parliament’s approval for the funds.
While tabling the Bill in the National Assembly, the Finance Minister said it was now up to the Parliament to decide whether funds should be released to the ECP or not.
Dar said snap elections ordered by the Supreme Court were not in the national interest due to the security and economic situation.
“Elections should be held in all assemblies on the same date,” the finance minister said, adding that the government had tabled the bill in Parliament in light of the Supreme Court’s orders to release Rs 21 billion to the ECP.
The Finance Minister said the coalition government fully believes in the supremacy of Parliament and the rule of law and the Constitution.
Conducting elections is a constitutional responsibility, Darr said, but it requires simultaneous polling of the national and all provincial assemblies under conservative systems.
He said this would not only reduce expenditure but also ensure free, fair and transparent elections.
Recalling that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf regime led by former Prime Minister Imran Khan defaulted the country by violating its sovereign commitments made with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he said it also harmed Pakistan’s credibility.
With the IMF bailout stalled since November, Pakistan is at risk of defaulting on its debt, while a bitter political battle rages between the government and Khan.
Foreign exchange reserves of $4.2 billion will provide the cash-strapped nation with a month’s worth of import security.
National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf referred the bill to the concerned NA Standing Committee when he adjourned the session till 2 pm on Thursday.
After the bill was tabled, Senate President Sadiq Sanjharani adjourned the session till 10 am on Friday (April 14), asking members to submit notices by April 13 for the proposal to make recommendations on the bill.
It is not clear whether introducing the bill in Parliament will be sufficient to comply with court orders to release the funds by April 10. But it is clear that the political instability will not end and the economic situation will remain weak. .
Meanwhile, Dawn newspaper reported that the bill states that the funds required for the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elections are “expenditure charged to the federal consolidated fund”, which includes all revenues received and all debts accrued by the federal government. All money received by that Government and in repayment of any debt.
It says it “shall override other laws” and have effect “notwithstanding any other laws, rules and regulations contained therein” when in force.
It noted that the proposed law would be repealed once the elections to the two assemblies are held and the general elections and the elections to the Sindh and Balochistan Assemblies need not be repealed.