The budget could not be presented in the Punjab Assembly on Monday despite hours of delay as the opposition and the treasury benches continued protesting against each other. Later the session was postponed till Tuesday amid verbal exchanges between Speaker Pervaiz Elahi and ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmakers. The budget session was scheduled to begin at 2pm but started after several hours of delay. As soon as the session began, PTI members complained that chief minister, chief secretary and other secretaries were not present in the house, urging the speaker not to allow the government members from presenting the budget. On this, PML-N’s Malik Mohammad Ahmed said CM Hamza Shehbaz and chief secretary would come to the floor if the opposition gives timeframe for the start of session. He said that the chief minister is in his chamber but not in the house since the session was due to begin at 2pm and did not start for several hours. The opposition benches also protested the presence of Punjab government spokesperson Attaullah Tarar in the assembly, as he is not a member. “We will not let the budget be presented till [Chief Minister] Hamza Shahbaz is present in the house, while the inspector-general and chief secretary are sitting in the gallery,” the opposition said. Following the opposition’s protest, Speaker Pervaiz Elahi summoned the house’s guards to escort Tarar out of the assembly and adjourned the session for 10 minutes. Elahi said that if Tarar was not out of the building within 10 minutes, he would adjourn the session till Tuesday. After the break, the session resumed with Elahi in the chair, while Tarar exited the assembly in “protest”. Amid all the drama, the finance bill could not be presented. Earlier, reports said that the deadlock persisted during a meeting of the advisory committee over the opposition’s demand that the Secretary and IG Punjab must apologise over the “illegal” case made against their members. The budget session became a question mark with issues between PML-Q leader and Speaker Pervaiz Elahi and the provincial government intensifying. The power struggle in the province seems to be growing stronger with each passing day with Elahi – a key ally of the opposition PTI – not accepting Hamza as the Punjab CM. Earlier in the day, the Punjab cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz, approved a 30pc increase in the salaries of government employees. During the cabinet meeting, it was decided to follow the example of the federal government and merge all ad-hoc relief allowances. Similarly, the government will also provide a 15pc disparity allowance along with 15pc additional salary, which will be available to employees of certain government departments. The provincial cabinet also approved a 15pc hike in pensions against the proposed increase of 5pc. In addition to approving the Annual Development Programme 2022-23, the meeting also approved the MoU for providing free medicines to cancer patients. Addressing the meeting, Hamza Shahbaz said relief measures have been proposed in the budget to facilitate the people of the province. “I always believe in consultation. The recent budget has been prepared in consultation with the political and administrative team,” he said while acknowledging the services of the officials who were part of the budget-making. The chief minister appreciated efforts of provincial ministers, chairman planning & development, secretary finance and other officials concerned in preparing the best budget documents. He said that solid measures for providing genuine relief to the masses had been suggested in the budget. The provincial ministers, chief secretary and officials concerned were also present.