ISLAMABAD: The government came under fire in the Senate Wednesday on the opening day of a new session for allegedly having signed a document of financial surrender with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), fearing a bid was underway to making the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) answerable to the fund only.
On a point of public importance, PPP legislator Mian Raza Rabbani claimed in the house that the federal cabinet in its recent meeting had deferred consideration of a ‘mini-budget bill’ and wanted to decide with the IMF to enforce it through an ordinance.
The details of the agreement signed with the IMF, he pointed out, had not been shared with either the public or the parliament, but its fallout was visible in the form of a surge in power and gas tariffs besides increase in the prices of petrol and various other commodities.
However, Rabbani emphasised that all the more dangerous was the government’s plan to amend the SBP autonomy act to make it to answerable only to the IMF. He contended, “under the proposed amendment, the SBP would go out of the government’s jurisdiction and will not be answerable to it or the parliament, rather it will only be answerable to the IMF”.
Rabbani made it clear that the opposition would resist the government moves to introduce a mini-budget and blindly following the dictates of the IMF. On this count, he also referred to Article 77 of the Constitution, which reads, “no tax shall be levied for the purposes of the federation except by or under the authority of Majlis-e-shoora (Parliament)”.
Responding to Rabbani, Leader of House in the Senate Dr Shahzad Waseem put aside reservations expressed by Rabbani, questioning how the government could bring mini-budget through promulgation of an ordinance when the Parliament was in session. He said that the Senate would remain in session for a long period of time and suggested to the opposition that ‘we should talk in the House on solid grounds, as the cabinet did not discuss the mini-budget and when it would be introduced, its details would be made public and discussed in the parliament.