- Standing Committees Take Longer Time to Report Back on Legislative Proposals
- No Private Member Bill passed in 16th Punjab Assembly so far
The 16th Provincial Assembly of Punjab passed 137 government bills during 25 sessions held between June 1, 2013 and December 5, 2016, mainly focusing on Governance, Education, Elections and Human Rights. The lawmakers expressed less interest in introducing Private Members’ bills as only five such bills were introduced during the last three and half years. A total of 152 government bills were introduced during the reporting period, and among these 137 sailed through easily in the PML-N dominated House having majority of 312 out of 371 seats. The Private Members’ bills, however, remained stuck at the committee stage.
The previous (15th) Punjab Assembly, on the other hand, witnessed introduction of 154 government bills during its five-year tenure (2008 to 2013). It saw the passage of 133 bills, while 10 bills were withdrawn by their respective movers and 11 legislative proposals remained pending with relevant standing committees. A total of 22 Private Members’ bills were introduced during the tenure, and only one bill was passed. The Assembly disposed of 16 Private Members’ bills while six other legislative proposals were sent to respective standing committees.
The incumbent Provincial Government had greater reliance on legislation through ordinances as 64 of them were laid in the House and were approved. According to the sub section 6 of Section 91 of Rules of Procedure of Punjab Assembly 1997, “an Ordinance laid before the Assembly under clause (2) of Article 128 of the Constitution shall be deemed to be a Bill introduced in the Assembly on the day it is so laid”.
The standing committees also slowed down the pace of legislation as they took longer than stipulated time to report on legislative proposals referred to them by the House. The committees are normally required to report on bills within 30 days, however, on average, each committee took 52 days to give its recommendations on a bill. In addition, one of the committees took the longest duration of 272 days to report on the Punjab Drugs (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015 while the shortest period between introduction and passage of the Punjab Local Government (First Amendment) Bill 2016. the Punjab Local Government (Second Amendment) Bill 2016 and the Punjab Agriculture, Food And Drug Authority Bill, 2016 was just two days.
As many as 12 government bills were passed without waiting for the recommendations of the committees; five among them were Finance Bills, which are not sent to the committee as per rules. Of the seven other bills, two each were related to Human Rights, Governance while one each to Economy, Judiciary and the Issues of Employees.
Similarly, the committees did not submit reports on four Private Members’ bills as the government seems reluctant to allow consideration of these bills.
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