PM Imran calls allies’ meeting on mini-budget today

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday called a meeting of the parliamentary groups of parties included in the ruling alliance led by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Thursday (today) amid the government’s plan to introduce the controversial supplementary finance bill — or the mini-budget as the opposition called it — in the National Assembly the same day.

According to the agenda of the National Assembly for Thursday, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin will introduce the bill in the house to amend certain laws relating to taxes and duties [the Finance (Supplementary) Bill 2021].

NA agenda shows bill will not be passed today

The meeting of the parliamentary group of the ruling alliance will be held at 2pm in the Parliament House. Prime Minister Khan will be in the chair.

According to the agenda of the lower house, the bill will only be introduced, and not passed, on Thursday.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday said that a separate cabinet meeting would be held on the issue of mini-budget during which all government allies would be taken into confidence.

As the opposition has already vowed to block the passage of the bill, fireworks are expected during the NA session. The opposition has claimed that the bill will further increase inflation and add to people’s misery.

The two bills are pending approval from parliament without which the revival of the IMF programme will not be possible.

A senior official said that the cabinet could not consider the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Autonomy Bill on Tuesday because the law minister was not present at the meeting. So the cabinet’s ratification on the work finalised by the Cabinet Committee on Legislative Business could not be taken up. Secondly, the Tax Laws (Fourth) Amendment Bill was withdrawn because the government could not afford a backlash when the CPI-based inflation already stood at 11.53 per cent for November.