LAHORE: Amid a sloganeering contest with opposition parties, Lord Mayor Colonel (Retd) Mubashir Javed presented a Rs13.17 billion budget for the Metropolitan Corporation Lahore (MCL) in Fiscal Year 2017-18.
National politics even seeped into proceedings at this local level as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf representatives took a jibe at elected chairpersons and vice chairpersons over the exit of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The opposition party members tore up copies of the budget and started shouting slogans during the lord mayor’s speech.
As for the allocation itself, budget estimates showed the MCL would earn Rs10.56 billion through its own resources. The corporation earmarked Rs2.38 billion for development schemes, including Rs1.55 billion for the Annual Development Programme (ADP).
The MCL allocated Rs827 million for ongoing development schemes, Rs286 million for construction and maintenance of roads and Rs150 million for installation and upkeep of streetlights.
It also set aside Rs1.34 billion for the payment of pensions, Rs183 million to set up Ramazan Bazaars in the city, Rs250 million for Eid-ul-Azha related activities, Rs87 million for national events and Rs110 million for advertising and publicity campaigns.
To address traffic related problems and parking issues, the MCL allocated Rs600 million for the construction of a motorcycle parking plaza on Hall Road.
The MCL budget session was held here at the Town Hall under the convenership of Mian Muhammad Tariq and attended by a large number of chairmen and vice chairmen from both the ruling and opposition parties.
Chairmen and vice chairmen from the ruling also responded in a similar tone and a sloganeering contest ensued. They held aloft posters of Nawaz Sharif and pledged allegiance to their leader.
Javed underlined this was the second MCL budget in which public welfare was the prime focus. As per the PML-N, the MCL was committed to develop the provincial capital according to citizens’ desires, as per the vision Shehbaz and Nawaz Sharif.
Later, while addressing chairmen and vice chairmen of the ruling party, Javed underscored that whether Nawaz held the position or not, he was the prime minister of 200 million Pakistanis.
He questioned how the people who “looted billions of rupees from the national exchequer and made the Surrey Palace were still free”?
He also lamented the fact that generals who had toppled democratically elected governments by imposing martial law faced no repercussions.
Mubashir stressed PML-N was being victimised for its development agenda. He added the ruling party had all but eliminated power outages from the country. “Earlier, citizens were suffering from 10 to 12 hours of load-shedding and that was reduced to just two hours,” he claimed.
He said PML-N was ready to compete in all circumstances and against all conspiracies as it was the core agenda of the party to develop Pakistan.
Later, MCL members staged a rally on Mall Road against the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif. They chanted slogans against opposition parties and expressed their resolve to strengthen democracy in the country. They assured that despite the former prime minister’s disqualification by the Supreme Court, PML-N would return with a greater majority in the 2018 General Elections to continue its development agenda.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2017.