The passage of bill against harassment of women at workplaces, adoption of two separate resolutions demanding provision of jobs in federal public departments as per allocated quota, swift action for facility of Information Technology in the province, presence of new cabinet members in the House along with Chief Minister were the main highlights of the 25th session of Balochistan Assembly.
The session spanning over four sittings started on January 8 and concluded on January 16, 2016. The session was marked by low attendance of lawmakers as an average of 27(42%) members were present in the start and 26 (40%) at the end of the each sitting. Two minority members, on average, attended each sitting of the session. On average, each sitting started 27 minutes behind the schedule and lasted 109 minutes. The longest sitting on January 8, 2016 lasted 2 hours and 55 minutes and the shortest sitting was witnessed on January 14, 2016 lasting for 82 minutes.
The House unanimously passed the Balochistan Harassment of Women at Workplace Bill, 2015 following the recommendations of Standing Committee on Social Welfare and Women Development. The report of the aforesaid committee on this particular bill was presented in the House during the last sitting and the House passed it. The bill is aimed to curb the harassment of women at workplace so that they could work freely and without fear.
The House unanimously adopted two joint resolutions tabled by PkMAP lawmakers. The first resolution was regarding provision of jobs to local citizens in federal public departments as per allocated quota while the others was about expanding the functioning of Universal Services Funds (USF) in remote area of the province adopted during the third sitting. Both resolutions shared 21 percent of the session time as a total of nineteen lawmakers spoke on it for 90 minutes.
The question hour remained suspended during the first two sittings on account of non-formulation of new cabinet after the election of new Leader of the House on December 24, 2015. However after new cabinet sworn in, the House observed question hour and lawmakers raised ten questions addressed to different departments. Half of these questions were taken up on the floor of the House and responded to by the relevant Ministers. Other five questions remained unaddressed due to to absence of government representatives or their movers.
The Speaker attended all four sitting and chaired the 87 percent of the session time while a member of Panel of Chairpersons presided over the 13 percent of the session.
The Chief Minister (Leader of the House) attended three sittings and participated in 79% of session’s proceeding while the Leader of the Opposition was present in two sittings for 29% of the proceeding time. Parliamentary leaders of PkMAP, and PML attended four sittings each while MWM Parliamentary Leader attended two sittings during the session.
A PkMAP lawmaker staged a walkout from the House for seven minutes during fourth sitting against the attitude of the Speaker for not allowing him to speak on a point of order.
Nine reports including seven reports of Auditor General of Pakistan, one government report on NFC and a report of the Standing Committee on Social Welfare and Women Development were laid before the House during the session.
Lawmakers raised 32 Points of Order (POs) that consumed 91 minutes of the session time. Male lawmakers raised maximum points of order (27) as compared to their female counterparts who raised only five POs Members belonging to PkMAP raised 14 POs followed by NP (7), PML-N and JUI-F (5 each), and PML (1). The highest number of POs (17) were raised during the second sitting which consumed 70 minutes of the sitting.
FAFEN observes lawmakers’ participation against three categories; members who only submit agenda on the Orders of the Day, those who only debate it and members who both submit agenda and take part in the on-floor discussion. In the House of 65 members, 38 (59%) lawmakers participated in the session. Four lawmakers (6%) submitted the agenda items, 22 (34%) members took part in debates while 12 (19%) lawmakers were such who submitted the agenda as well as took part in debates. Fourteen PkMAP lawmakers participated in the session followed by followed by PML-N (9), NP (6), JUI-F (4), PML (3), BNP and ANP (one each). Female lawmakers remained more active in terms of participating in debates and submitting the agenda and took part in 67 percent proceedings as compared to male members who have participated in 58 percent proceeding of the House. Among non-participating members 19 belong to PML-N followed by NP (5), JUI-F (4), and one each of BNP, MWM and BNP-A. One independent member remained mum during the session.
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