Ishaq Dar, the finance minister, presented a bill before the National Assembly (NA) on Monday asking for the allocation of funds to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in order to carry out the Supreme Court’s mandate to hold elections in Punjab.
Last week, the top court set May 14 as the election day in the province and ordered the federal government to transfer Rs 21 billion in election funding to the Election Commission of Pakistan by April 10 in order to hold elections for the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies.
The government resolved to refer the issue of election funding to the Parliament at a federal cabinet meeting on Sunday as the deadline for the SC’s release of cash draws near.
The required funds for the elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are to be “an expenditure charged upon the Federal Consolidated Fund,” which, according to the bill presented in the parliament today and a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, is made up of all federal government revenues, all loans raised by that government, and all money received by that government in repayment of any loan.
The bill specified that it would take precedence over all other laws and be effective regardless of what was written in other laws, rules, and regulations at the time it was in existence.
It also stated that the planned law would be repealed once elections for both assemblies were completed, stressing that general elections as well as elections for the assembly in Sindh and Balochistan were not necessary.
Dar slammed the PTI government for pursuing “unsuitable policies” that brought the nation dangerously close to default in his address to the lower house of parliament today.
He noted that the nation’s economy was in ruins when the current administration took office in April of last year. The nation that was classified as having the 24th largest economy in 2017 dropped to 47th place as a result of their [the PTI’s] failure.
Dar continued by stating that in spite of these difficulties, the federal coalition was successful in preventing default and has taken the “next step” to offer relief to the country.
He berated the PTI for persistently attempting to sow discord and hopelessness throughout the country and for trying to incite a constitutional crisis.