The Punjab Assembly on Wednesday discussed Industries, Mines and Minerals departments during the Question-Hour, but these prioritised sectors of the provincial government are without a minister, and as usual ‘closer to subject’ Minister Commerce & Investment Sirdar Dost Muhammad Khan Khosa also chose to stay away.
The Junior Khosa – said to be annoyed with the PML-N leadership after change of ministerial portfolio – has kept his tradition of never attending any session whenever the matter, whether Question-Hour or legislation, is about a department falling or could fall under his purview. The same was true when he was Minister Local Government and Community Development Department.
Minister Food Ch Abdul Ghafoor and Senior Minister Raja Riaz Ahmed gave replies to queries, but as expected once-minister prisons Ghafoor was grilled by the members for bad performance, while the Raja after replying to two questions, requested the Chair for pending the rest since he was supposed to leave for a meeting in Islamabad. Ghafoor was virtually blank about the subject, and tried to put his best performance by repeating, “It is in process and will be done soon.” However, this certainly irked members.
While replying to a question of Opposition Leader Ch Zaheeruddin, Ghafoor admitted that 21 projects of Punjab Small Industries Corporation had yet to take off. Q-League’s Seemal Kamran wanted to know the exact situation regarding the development of the industrial estates, but Ghafoor could not answer her queries. However, Minister told the House that in the last fiscal year, the PSIC was allocated Rs 12.14million as a development budget, and only Rs 714.339m were released, and even out of this, it used only Rs 424.339m, while the remaining Rs 290m were surrendered. He also mentioned that PC-I for treatment plant at M-3 Industrial City, Sunder Industrial Estate Lahore, Multan Industrial Estate and Quaid-e-Azam Industrial Estate had been finalised, but these projects had yet to be initiated despite money allocation as well.
PML-N’s Muhammad Naveed Anjum virtually took Raja Riaz to task over contracts being dished out to only nine contractors for digging sand from the River Ravi. Naveed was of the view that only a few were being given contracts, and there was no change for the last many years. This was contradicted by Raja Riaz, but Naveed did not budge even an inch from his stated stance that the list had been provided by the House. When the Raja provided with another ‘fresh’ list, Naveed told the members that it was the same list carrying names of the same contractors.
At this point, when Q’s detractor Shaikh Alauddin wanted to say something, Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan stopped him, which irritated the Shaikh, and walked out to launch protest. The Speaker did not stop him, but the Shaikh from Kasur was brought back by members on their own since the Speaker had declined to send any body for him.
Later, Ghafoor could not reply a query of Q’s Zobia Rubab Malik regarding number of sick industrial units of District Sargodha. However, he mentioned that quite a large number of factories were not functional because of power shortage. The Minister promised to communicate the figure later on.