- Points of Order consume 33% of session time
- Speaker’s seat lying vacant for three months
ISLAMABAD, August 24, 2015: The Balochistan Assembly adopted nine resolutions and left 95% questions unaddressed amid low interest of lawmakers during the 20th session, says Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) in its session report based on direct observation of the House.
The five-sitting session commenced on August 7, 2015 and prorogued on August 18, 2015 with an average sitting time of two hours and 14 minutes. On average, each sitting started 64 minutes behind the schedule with 26 members (40%) at the outset and 20 (31%) at the time of adjournment. Two minority members attended each sitting on average.
The Deputy Speaker chaired the entire session. The seat of Speaker has been lying vacant after the acceptance of Speaker’s resignation on May 22, 2015. The Chief Minister (Leader of the House) attended three sittings (56% of the proceedings’ time) while the Leader of the Opposition was present in one sitting (2% of the proceedings’ time).
A total of 95% questions remained unanswered during the session. There were 18 starred questions on the agenda, of which only one was taken up on the floor of the House. Of these questions, five were addressed to Ministry of Public Health Engineering followed by Ministries of Irrigation, Health and Agriculture (4 each) and one to Ministry of Planning and Development.
Out of five, only one question appearing on the agenda in the first sitting was taken up and responded by the relevant minister while four others were deferred due to absence of the concerned MPAs. No question was on the list of business during 4th sitting while the House could not take up any of the questions on its agenda due to ministerial absence in the remaining sittings.
The House adopted nine resolutions which included demand from federal government to take action against MQM’s Chief for his objectionable speeches; authorizing Parliament to amend Marriage Act 1872 and Divorce Act 1862 for Christian community; legislation about Hindu Marriage Registration; judicial inquiry into child abuse cases in Kasur; implementation on Prime Minister’s special package for Chaghi announced after nuclear explosion in 1998; rehabilitation of families in respectable manner after demolition of their houses in sector I-11 Islamabad; proper promotion criteria for provincial police officers; resolving the issue of withholding tax through meaningful dialogue with the traders and establish new administrative Division `Rakshan’ comprising four districts of Chaghi, Noshki, Kharan and Washak.
One of the resolutions was withdrawn by the mover after assurance of the Advisor to Chief Minister on Education to resolve the issue. The said resolution was about legislation to introduce weightage formula in jobs through Balochistan Public Service Commission.
Three lawmakers – one each of PML-N, JUI-F and PkMAP- took part in debate on the resolution to condemn speeches of MQM’s Chief that continued for 33 minutes. Another resolution to condemn child abuse cases was discussed for 35 minutes by four lawmakers including two from JUI-F and one each of PML-N and PkMAP.
Similarly, one of the resolutions for implementation on PM’s package for Chaghi was debated for 15 minutes by three legislators including two from PML-N and one from JUI-F. One lawmaker each of JUI-F and PML-N debated resolution for promotion criteria of police officers for 16 minutes. The House consumed 6% (38 minutes) of the session time to discuss resolution about establishing new administration Division `Rakshan’ and nine lawmakers- NP (4), PkMAP (2), PML-N, JUI-F and PML (one each) – took part in the debate.
Two adjournment motions about rehabilitation of families in respectable manner after demolition of their houses in sector I-11, Islamabad and resolving the issue of withholding tax with government were discussed by the House for 41 minutes (6% of the session time) and 18 minutes (2% of the session time) respectively. Both of these AMs were later converted into resolution and formally adopted by the House.
The House witnessed passage of three government bills comprising the Balochistan Forensic Science Agency Bill 2015, the Balochistan Hotels Restriction (Security) Bill 2015 and the Balochistan Restriction of Rented Buildings (Security) Bill 2015.
Five other government bills introduced in the House were referred to the relevant committees which included the Balochistan Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Bill 2015, the Balochistan Thalassemia Prevention and Protection Bill 2015, the Balochistan Industrial Relations Bill 2015, the Balochistan Boiler and Pressure Vessels Bill 2015 and the Balochistan Child Welfare Protection Bill 2015.
Members raised 47 points of order, consuming 33% (222 minutes) of the total session time. Among parliamentary leaders, PkMAP’s parliamentary leader attended all five sittings followed by one each by JUI-F, PML and MQM and none by PML-N, BNP, NP and ANP.
JUI-F female lawmaker pointed out the quorum during the second sitting which led to adjournment of the House due to less than 25% presence of lawmakers.
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This session report is based on direct observation of the Balochistan Assembly proceedings conducted by Center for Peace and Development (CPD) – a member organization of FAFEN. Errors and omissions are excepted.
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