88th Session of Senate Marked by Ministerial Absences and Low Attendance
ISLAMABAD, December 21, 2012: The 88th session of Senate was marked by ministerial absences, low attendance and persistent lack of quorum, says Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) in its preliminary report on Friday. Only 43% of the agenda items appearing on the Orders of the Day were taken up.
Since the Senate Secretariat does not make the attendance record public, FAFEN conducts a headcount of legislators at the beginning and end of each sitting and documents the actual time spent on the floor of the House by the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition
On average 34 Senators attended each of the seven sittings, a third of the 104-member house, while only six were present at the beginning and 19 at the end of each sitting. However, this lack of quorum was not pointed out at any point during the proceedings.
The Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition attended the entire session. The Chairman chaired 59% of the session time, Deputy Chairman 22%, while the remaining time (8%) was presided over by Members of Panel of Chairpersons.
The parliamentary leaders of PMLF and BNPA did not attend the entire session while the ANP leader attended seven, JUIF six, NP four, and PML and MQM leaders were present during one sitting each.
The six sittings from July 27 to August 3 lasted 14 hours and 22 minutes with each on average meeting for two hours and 23 minutes. Each sitting started with an average delay of 38 minutes.
Only 13 out of 30 agenda items appearing on the Orders of the Day during the session were addressed. Six Standing Committees’ reports were presented and two bills were introduced. Two calling attention notices were taken up and two resolutions were adopted.
However, the house did not take up 17 agenda items – nine of these were on the orders of the private members’ day (Mondays in the Senate). The private members’ agenda was ambitiously set, accounting for more than a third of the total agenda items.
Perhaps a contributing factor in low disposal of agenda was the absence of relevant ministers in the house – a calling attention notice presented by Senators of ANP, PMLN, and MQM regarding the failure of the government to devise a formula for CNG prices could not be taken up since the advisor to the Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources was absent. However, the CAN was taken up at a later sitting.
Similarly, ANP Senators staged an 80-minute walkout during the third sitting over the executive director of Karachi Electric Supply Company not appearing before the Standing Committee on Water and Power.
Out of 82 starred questions on the agenda, 20 were taken up. Senators asked 44 supplementary questions.
Five out of ten resolutions were taken up. One of them condemned attacks on polio workers and another recommended setting up shelter houses for senior citizens. A resolution on alternative energy sources was not taken up by the house.
A total of 71 points of order were raised which consumed 198 minutes of the session time. However, none of the points of order attracted the Chair\’s formal ruling. Unless the Chair gives a formal ruling on a Point of Order, it does not lead to any assembly output.
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