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The National Assembly on Wednesday approved 118 demands for grants relating to different ministries and departments for the next financial year.

The House rejected all cut motions of the opposition against demands for grants of ministries of Foreign Affairs, and Finance and Cabinet Division.

Speaking on cut motions, the opposition members including leader of the opposition Syed Khurshid Shah said the government missed almost all economic targets and demanded steps to reduce budgetary deficit.

They called for holding of next population census as it is fundamental to social and economic planning.

They also suggested that direct taxes should be increased and indirect reduced to provide relief to the masses. Some of them urged the Government to take steps for introduction of Islamic banking.

They said merit has been ignored while making appointments in important departments. Describing the 10 percent ad hoc relief for government employees as meager, the members said the price hike has hit the employees most, therefore, their salaries should be enhanced by at least thirty percent.

Responding to points raised by members, Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar said Rs 8 billion have already been paid and Rs 31 billion rupee would be released by the beginning of the next month for K-2 and K-3 nuclear power projects in Karachi.

Ishaq Dar said a Steering Committee on Islamic Banking has been set up to make recommendations on Islamic banking by the close of the year.

He said a team of Finance Ministry will initiate talks with Swiss authorities in August this year in connection with conclusion of agreement to bring back illegal money from Swiss banks.

The Finance Minister said no favorite has been appointed in corporations or government departments.  All appointments have been made strictly in accordance with merit and through a transparent process.

He told the House that the Federal Government is in favour of holding next population census and the process would be initiated after completion of the process of consultations with the provinces.

He said the Government is paying special attention to development of water sector and work on much-delayed Diamer-Bhasha Dam would begin next financial year. Funds have been allocated and land acquisition is underway.


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