NA to discuss power tariff hike on opposition’s insistence

The treasury benches in the National Assembly agreed on Tuesday to debate an adjournment motion tabled by opposition on the recent increase in the electricity power tariff announced by the government last week.

NA to discuss power tariff hike on opposition’s insistence

However, members on both sides of aisle engaged in barbed exchanges, as Energy Minister Omar Ayub challenged the opposition not to run away when the government would show them the mirror. Former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf retorted they would speak the “same language” as the government.

Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri chaired the session. When the opposition sought permission to table the motion, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said it would be included in the agenda but pointed out that in the past adjournment motions on very important matters were excluded from the agendas.

The issue pertained to a Rs1.95 hike in the power tariff announced by the government on Thursday. At that time, Omer Ayub had said that the increase was necessary because of the agreements made by the previous government with “bad-intentions and corrupt practices”.

In the National Assembly on Tuesday, Raja Pervez Ashraf of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) said that the electricity power tariff had been increased. “Shouldn’t it be discussed in the assembly? If we don’t bring all these things in the assembly, where will we go?”

The former prime minister pointed out that women had been protesting outside parliament for 18 days, while protests were taking place at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS). “Shouldn’t these [issues] be discussed in the Assembly? Or should we go to their protests and [just] make speeches?”

On this, the chair ruled that adjournment motion would be included in the next day’s agenda. However, Ashraf insisted that it should be included in the day’s agenda. “You are, the deputy speaker of the people, and this assembly represents 220 million people,” he added.

Interjecting in the debate, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the motion of PPP lawmaker Syed Naveed Qamar should be included in the agenda for Thursday (tomorrow). However, while criticising the opposition, he added that the previous governments were responsible for the tariff hike.

Later, the deputy speaker allowed Qamar to move the adjournment motion. Ayub, the energy minister, said that the government “wholeheartedly accepts” this adjournment motion but urged that the opposition should not “run away, when we will respond”.

“We will speak in the same language in which you will speak,” retorted PPP’s Ashraf. Ayub then quipped: “When we will show the mirror to the opposition, they will walk out.” However, the chair insisted on following the agenda before debating on the motion further.

Ahsan Iqbal of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) raised the issue of seizure of a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane in Malaysia. “The Foreign policy is in front of everyone but the foreign minister is standing in for parliamentary affairs minister here,” he said.

On this, a treasury lawmaker pointed out that Qureshi was the parliamentary leader of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). He reminded the opposition that they had promised to attend the session, the other day, but instead, they chose to held a meeting chaired by an unelected leader.

He was referring to a meeting of the PML-N parliamentary party meeting on Monday at the Parliament House, which was chaired by party’s Vice President Maryam Nawaz. The meeting had decided to give “tough time” to the government on public issues.

“The meeting of elected representatives should be chaired by an elected leader. But because of that meeting, you did not fulfil your promise. The party members were sitting in the meeting headed by an unelected leader,” the house was told. Later, the session was adjourned until Friday.

Originally published at The express tribune