Punjab Assembly passed 11 bills, adopted 14 resolutions and held Pre-Budget discussion during 20th session that continued from March 30 to April 15, 2016. The session started a day after the terrorist attack in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, Lahore and also coincided with the revelations in Panama Leaks about Prime Ministers’ offshore family businesses. The House took up both the issues and expressed its opinion by adopting resolutions on each of them.
Session Time and Attendance: The cumulative duration of 13 sittings held during the session was 35 hours and 31 minutes while each sitting, on average, started 69 minutes behind its scheduled time and continued for two hours and 43 minutes. The Chief Minister did not attend any sitting while the Leader of the Opposition was present in 10 sittings. The Speaker presided over 56% of the proceedings, the Deputy Speaker 37% while a member of the Panel of Chairpersons acted as the Speaker for rest of the duration.
Legislation: The legislative agenda brought before the House comprised 12 Government bills and an ordinance. The House approved 11 bills related to the Local Government, institutional development, natural resources’ management, meat-sale and transport. The ordinance providing relief to civilian victims of terrorism and another bill regarding setting up an agriculture, food and drug regulatory authority were sent to the relevant committee for further deliberations.
Resolutions: The House adopted 14 resolutions – six among them were private. Moreover, three private resolutions were dropped after appearing on the agenda due to absence of the sponsors. Among others, the House approved six resolutions seeking extension in the term of six ordinances promulgated by the Punjab Governor.
Reports before the House: Nine standing committees presented 11 reports on legislative proposals and privilege motions referred to them by the House. Moreover, the Assembly granted extension in time for presentation of 18 reports, including a report of the Public Accounts Committee. The House also held discussion on the Annual Report of the Punjab Bait-ul-Maal for the year 2013 during the last sitting of the session. The discussion would continue in the next session.
Calling Attention Notices: The lawmakers raised seven Calling Attention Notices (CANs) drawing the attention of the government to matters of law and order. The Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs made statements on these notices on floor of the House.
Adjournment Motions: The House admitted 41 Adjournment Motions (AMs) for discussion during the session. Of these, 21 were disposed of after the government’s response, one was referred to the relevant committee while 19 are pending. PML-N lawmakers sponsored 21 AMs, PML 12, PTI 8 and PPPP 1.
Questions: As many as 314 questions were listed for answers during the session, including 247 starred and 70 unstarred. The rules require the government to answer a starred question orally as well as in writing while the unstarred questions are to be replied only in writing. However, only 98 starred questions were taken up and replied to on floor of the House.
Pre Budget Discussion: The Assembly held Pre-Budget discussion to solicit proposals for allocation of funds for upcoming financial year. As many as 66 lawmakers shared their suggestions for the budget 2016-17 consuming 561 minutes.
Zero Hour: Following recent amendments to the Rules of Procedure, the Assembly now reserves last half an hour to raise matters of urgent public importance. Two such matters were raised by a PML-N lawmaker during the session.
Points of Order: The lawmakers raised 72 Points of Order consuming 102 minutes of the session’s duration. The lawmakers discussed various issues related to the governance, security, development and business of the House.
Questions of Privilege: An independent lawmaker and those belonging to the treasury submitted seven questions of privilege against public servants for misbehaving with the elected representatives. All these questions were referred to the relevant committee for perusal.
Protest: The Opposition parties registered their protest against prolonged absence of Chief Minister from the House and Panama leaks on six occasions during the session.
Quorum: Two of the sittings had to be adjourned due to lack of quorum while once the required number was found complete upon counting after the customary bells were rung for five minutes.
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