PML-N, PPP unite against opposition on RGST

LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly on Tuesday witnessed a real coalition between the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) legislators against the opposition’s move to table a resolution on the Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST).The opposition in the PA, getting annoyed over a smart move of the treasury benches, said that quorum was pointed out to avoid a resolution on the RGST, which was supposed to be moved in the House on Tuesday.The House echoed with slogans of ‘shame shame’ by the opposition members just after the announcement of Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan that quorum was incomplete and the House proceedings would be adjourned until today (Wednesday).It is worth noting that the House proceedings started about one and half hour late from its schedule time under the chair of the speaker at 11:35am. Soon after the recitation of the holy Quran, the House conducted Question Hour.

After the completion of the Question Hour, adjournment motions were being discussed, treasury member Hassan Murtaza, on a point of order, requested the chair to allow him to present his adjournment motion, but he refused.The speaker categorically told him that it had unanimously been decided by parliamentary leaders of all the political forces in the business advisory committee meeting that no out of turn adjournment motion would be entertained. Murtaza said that as a member of the House, he should be allowed to speak on a point of order if he was not allowed to press for his adjournment motion. But the speaker again refused to let him speak, on which Murtaza said that if the decision of the parliamentary leaders stopped him from speaking, he had the right to point out quorum.Despite being warned by the speaker not to do so, Murtaza pointed out quorum.The helpless speaker asked his staff to count the members and when he was informed that the quorum was short, he asked that the bells be rang for a period of five minutes. Interestingly, no one was found to be serious in calling the members back to the House.After the five minutes had passed, recounting was done and the chair was informed that only 55 members were present in the House, on which the speaker announced that as the quorum was short, the proceedings were being adjourned until today. This announcement forced the opposition to raise slogans and shout ‘shame shame’.

Opposition member Dr Samia Amjad said that all the drama was staged to avoid a resolution on the RGST, as if it would have been moved in the House and would have made the PML-N and PPP’s stance on the issue very clear. She said the PML-N was equally involved “in this drama to avoid the resolution”.However, soon after the adjournment of the session, all political players in the PA accused each other for obstructing the presentation of the resolution against the RGST. The opposition held the ruling parties responsible for deliberately pointing out quorum to avoid tabling the resolution. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told journalists that if the PML-Q leader wanted to re-introduce a resolution on the RGST, there would be no bar from the treasury benches, however, he stressed that the right forum for the issue was the National Assembly.He also alleged that the PML-Q had attempted to introduce a resolution on the RGST in the Punjab Assembly only to minimise the embarrassment suffered by them in the Senate, “owing to their hypocrisy on the issue when they walked out of the Senate and provided an opportunity to the government to approve the RGST without a tough time – Dailytimes