ISLAMABAD, April 08, 2014: The National Assembly passed three bills and four resolutions in its tenth session amid low attendance, says Free and Fair Election Network in its preliminary session report based on direct observation of the Assembly proceedings.
The House passed three out of 20 bills tabled in the tenth session and referred 16 others to the concerned committees for further consideration. One bill was not taken up. Also in the session, two ordinances were laid before the House. The ordinances were the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014 and the Sales Tax (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014.
Prominent amongst the three passed bills was the Protection of Pakistan Bill, 2013 in the tenth sitting. It was passed amidst huge uproar, protests and walkouts from the entire opposition and a government ally JUI-F. The said bill aims to curb terrorism and deal with forces involved in waging war against the country. However the opposition termed the bill as “black law” as it gives massive powers to the government, according to the opposition.
Jointly tabled by PTI members, the House took up the single Motion under Rule 244. The motion suggested that a special Committee, consisting of not more than ten members, belonging to major political parties, may be constituted by the Speaker to investigate the allegation of non-payment of taxes by parliamentarians within 90 days.
The House adopted four resolutions, out of the 16 tabled. A jointly tabled resolution by the members of JI urged the federal government to immediately ban the telecast of immoral programs on private and government TV channels in the country. It was debated and adopted by the House. A PTI member demanded that government should take measures to reduce indirect taxation in the country. The third adopted resolution was tabled by PPPP lawmaker to urge the government to improve and regulate the Madrassah education.
Additionally, Minister of State on Water and Power tabled the fourth resolution which urges to extend the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 for a further period of 120 days with effect from April 29, 2014.
Three out of 13 motions under rule 259 were debated by the House. PML-N members jointly tabled a motion to increase the amount of house building advance of the Government employees. The other two motions were singly sponsored by the PML-N members on the law and order, and eradication of polio disease.
Of the 16 Calling Attention Notices (CANs), the House took up 14. Three notices were tabled jointly by the members whereas 11 were singly sponsored by the lawmakers. PML-N members raised the most (eight) CANs either singly or jointly. It was followed by the PPPP (four), PTI (three), MQM (two) and one each by the JI, NPP and an independent member.
Most of the Calling Attention Notices were directed to Cabinet Secretariat (four) and two each to Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs; and National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination.
Two privilege motions – one (PML-N) and one (AMLP) – were submitted in the House which were subsequently referred to the concerned committee. The House did not take up a single matter of public importance on the failure of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to collect taxes for the fiscal year of 2013-14. Additionally in the session, four Standing Committees of the House presented five reports.
Twenty one points of orders were raised by the law makers, consuming 2% of the total session time. Additionally, members raised 129 matters which are not point of orders under the rule 18 of the rules and procedure of the Assembly. It consumed seven hours and 43 minutes (23%) of the total session time.
Six percent of session time was consumed in five walkouts and a single protest. In the tenth sitting, entire opposition and government party JUI-F protested for seven minutes against the reading of Protection of Pakistan Bill, 2013 in the House and ultimately walked-out over the passage of said bill.
Entire opposition also walked-out as the House gave further extension of 120 days to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013. The three other walkouts were against the killing of MQM workers in Karachi, lack of meaningful agenda for the business of the House and government’s response to foreign aid.
There were 566 questions on the agenda. There were 248 starred and 318 un-starred questions. The House took 78 starred questions and did not take 137. Additionally, MNAs asked 96 supplementary questions.
The tenth session met for eleven sittings, commencing from 24th March to April 8th, 2014, with an average sitting time of three hours and 49 minutes. Each sitting, on average, was delayed for 45 minutes behind the schedule.
The parliamentary Leader of PkMAP remained the most punctual member as he attended all of the sittings while the JI leader was present during nine sittings. QWP-S leader attended eight sittings, APML leader six, ANP and AMLP (five each), MQM leader three, and leaders of PML-Z and PTI each attended a single sitting. The parliamentary leaders of BNP, AJIP, NP, JUI-F, NPP and PML remained away from the House proceedings.
The public is not privy to the attendance record of National Assembly lawmakers therefore the FAFEN observer performs a head count at various stages of a sitting to gauge members’ attendance. On average, 70 members were present at the outset of the sitting while 52 members were there at the end and 140 members were witnessed during a sitting. Seven minority members were present during a sitting, on average.
Quorum was pointed out at four instances by PTI and MQM members during the session. MQM member pointed out the missing quorum during the third sitting which resulted into adjournment of the proceeding. On another occasion proceeding was adjourned due to missing quorum highlighted by the PTI members during the ninth sitting. The PTI member pointed missing quorum twice during the tenth sitting and on both occasions it was found to be complete.
Among the key members, Speaker was present for most of the time by attending nine sittings and chairing 69% of the session proceedings. The Deputy Speaker presided 22% of the session time and panel of Chairpersons 3%. Remaining 5% of session time was consumed in four session breaks. Leader of the House (Prime Minister in National Assembly) was absent in the session while his counterpart Leader of Opposition was present in six sittings – 23% of session’s total time.
This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of FAFEN and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union. This Daily Factsheet is based on direct observation of the National Assembly proceedings conducted by Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI); a member organization of FAFEN. Errors and omissions excepted.
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