Pakistan: SBP bill narrowly passed in Senate

Islamabad : In a major success for the Imran Khan led Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government the crucial State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill was narrowly passed in the opposition-controlled Senate on Friday raising several eyebrows, Dawn reported on Saturday. The bill was passed by a one-vote majority in the Senate where the opposition has 57 members, excluding Ishaq Dar out of 100. At least eight opposition senators, including opposition leader Yusuf Raza Gilani, skipped Friday’s session, while at least four members of the Dilawar Khan-group voted in favour of the bill. Others who skipped the session included senators Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Nuzhat Sadiq, Talha Mehmood, Sikandar Mandhro, Shafiq Tareen, Muhammad Qasim and Naseema Ehsan. Two treasury members, Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Faisal Sabzwari and Khalid’s Ateeb, also did not turn up. When Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin moved the motion seeking leave to take up the bill for consideration, a rare tie was seen as both sides were locked at 43-43. The number of opposition lawmakers dwindled to 42 when voting for passage of the bill was carried out when Awami National Party Senator Umer Farooq Kasi, chose to leave the Senate chamber at this crucial juncture. Earlier the joint opposition submitted a dissenting note on the SBP bill to the Senate secretary terming the draft law a document of “financial surrender”. “This is a document that brings Pakistan’s national security and assets under severe strain and under the scrutiny of international financial imperialists,” the opposition maintained. The passage of the bill was crucial as it was one of the conditions laid out by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the release of $1 billion tranche for Pakistan which is currently under severe financial strain. 

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