ISLAMABAD, July 1, 2015: The 20th session of the Sindh Assembly witnessed active participation of female lawmakers during the budget debate that concluded with the passage of Finance Bill, 2015, says Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) in its Session Report.
Overall, the session (June 13 – June 25) was marked by low interest of lawmakers as 88 out of 167 legislators did not contribute to the debate. Of the 79 members who took part in the budget debate, 24 were female and 55 male. However, the female lawmakers were found to be more active as compared to their male counterparts, as 80% (24 out of 30) of them expressed their views on the budgetary proposals while only 40% (55 out of 137) males contributed to the general discussion.
The female lawmakers consumed 305 minutes while their male counterparts took 1178 minutes of the debate. Out of 24 participating female MPs, 14 were from PPPP, followed by MQM (6), PML-F (2) and one each from PTI and PML-N. Likewise, 24 of the male members debating the budget were from PPPP, followed by MQM (20), PML-F (5) and PTI, PML-N (3 each).
Among the non-participating lawmakers, six of them were female legislators while 82 were male lawmakers. Three each non-participating female lawmakers were from PPPP and MQM while of the 82 inactive male members, 51 belonged to PPPP, followed by MQM (22), PML-N (4), PML-F (3) and NPP (2).
The House witnessed presentation of the schedule of authorized supplementary expenditure for the year 2014-15 and the schedule of authorized expenditure for the year 2015-16.
The Finance Minister presented the annual budget 2015-2016 during the first sitting and took 137 minutes to present it. Instead of opening the budget debate, the Leader of the Opposition expressed his views in his 87-minute speech during the 9th sitting. The House adopted 59 demands for grants for the year 2015-16 as well as 50 supplementary demands for grants for the year 2014-15. A total of 572 cut motions on demands for grants for the year 2015-16 and 132 cut motions on supplementary demands for grants 2014-15 were rejected by the House.
Spanning nearly over half a month (13 days), the 20th session of the Sindh Assembly had ten sittings with an average delay of 77 minutes, while each sitting lasted for three hours and 56 minutes, on average. Forty-one members, on average, were present at the outset of the sitting while their attendance increased subsequently, as 58 lawmakers were present at the end. A maximum of 76 members were found to be present at one point of the sitting while five minority members attended the session, on average.
The Chief Minister (Leader of the House) attended seven sittings (52% of the proceedings’ time), the Leader of the Opposition eight sittings (54% of the proceedings’ time) while the Finance Minister was present in all ten sittings (95% of the proceedings’ time). The Speaker chaired 73% of the proceedings; the Deputy Speaker presided over 25% of the session while the remaining time (2%) was chaired by a member of Panel of Chairpersons. Among parliamentary leaders, the PML-F and PTI leaders attended nine sittings each followed by MQM (8) and PML-N (4).
The lawmakers raised 63 points of order (POs), consuming 5% (109 minutes) of total session time. The Speaker ignored the quorum twice during 2nd and 3rd sitting as pointed out by PTI and MQM lawmakers respectively. However, the quorum was found to be complete upon counting when pointed out by a PML-F lawmaker during the 7th sitting.
The House also witnessed multiple individual or joint protests/walkouts. MQM lawmakers protested for three times and walked out twice over various issues, including not getting permission to table resolution against the Federal Minister for Defence, unwarranted remarks of the provincial minister for Katchi Abadies & Spatial Development, shortage of water in Karachi and not getting permission to speak on the floor of the house.
Joint protests and walkouts by PML-N, PTI and PML-F lawmakers were staged against the provincial budget, remarks of the Chief Minister as well as the Education Minister. The entire opposition protested by staging a walkout against the shortage of water in Karachi and the amendment in clause 6 of the Finance Bill that was regarding increase in the rate of stamp duty. PML-F lawmakers protested over the kidnapping of a journalist in Interior Sindh.
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This Session Report is based on direct observation of the Sindh Assembly proceedings conducted by Pakistan Press Foundation – a member organization of FAFEN. Errors and omissions are excepted.
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