FAFEN Parliament Monitor 26th Session Report of Balochistan Assembly

30 MPAs remain inactive during 26th session of Balochistan Assembly
ISLAMABAD:  Thirty lawmakers did not take part in proceeding of 26th session of the Balochistan Assembly which adopted 11 resolutions and passed two bills amid low attendance of lawmakers, says Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) in its Session Report.

The session, comprising four sittings, started on February 9 and ended on February 18, 2016. The session was marked by low attendance of lawmakers as an average of 16 (24%) members remained present in the start and end of each sitting. One minority member, on average, attended each sitting of the session.

On average, each sitting started 41 minutes behind the schedule and lasted 150 minutes. The longest sitting on February 12, 2016 lasted 3 hours and 48 minutes and the shortest sitting lasting 112 minutes was witnessed on February 9, 2016.

In all, thirty lawmakers were such who did not participate in the session. Among non-participating members, 14 belonged to PML-N followed by NP, JUI-F and PML (4 each), and one each of PkMAP, BNP-A and BNP. The only independent member in the House also remained inactive during the session.

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.

Ten (16%) members submitted the agenda items, nine (14%) members took part in debates while 15 (23%) have submitted the agenda as well as took part in debates. Thirteen PkMAP lawmakers participated in the session followed by NP (7), PML-N (6), JUI-F (4), PML, BNP, ANP and MWM (one each).   Female lawmakers remained more active in terms of participating in debates and submitting the agenda and took part in 58 percent proceeding as compared to male members who have participated in 52 percent proceeding of the House.

Lawmakers focused to highlight economic and development issues during this session and also demanded execution of quota apportioned for Balochistan in various federal departments by adopting resolutions.  They also ensured legislation to regulate and prohibit use of sound system and expressing of hate matter on walls. In this connection, two government bills were passed which included the Balochistan Sound System (Regulation) Bill 2015 and the Balochistan Prohibition of Expressing Matters on Walls (Amendment) Bill, 2015.

Another two government bills – the Balochistan Witness Protection Bill, 2015 and the Balochistan Public Service Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2015 – were introduced. The latter bill was referred to the special committee after reservations of lawmakers from treasury benches.

The provincial legislature adopted a total of 11 out of 14 resolutions appearing on the agenda during the session. Two separate resolutions adopted by the House condemned terrorist attack on Bacha Khan University Charsadda and suicide attack near Liaqat Park, Quetta.  Nine other adopted resolutions were about constructing new roads in District Ziarat and Harnai; reducing  the prices of petroleum products by Rs. 15 per liter; utilization of funds for electrification of 23 districts; resolving  matter of improper treatment facilities in Children Hospital Quetta; representation of Balochistan in Pakistan Bureau of Statistics; equal  distribution of tax revenue to the provinces;  implementation on water quota agreed by provinces; payment of royalty to Balochistan against use of its electricity and also payment of outstanding dues to  natural resource producing companies.

The House observed question hour in three sittings and lawmakers raised 27 questions addressed to different departments. Fourteen starred questions were taken up on the floor of the House and responded to by the relevant Ministers.  Other thirteen questions remained unaddressed due to absence of government representatives or their movers.

The Speaker attended all four sittings and chaired the 76 percent of session time while a member of Panel of Chairpersons presided over the remaining 24 percent of the session.  The post of Deputy Speaker is lying vacant since December 23, 2015.

The Chief Minister (Leader of the House) attended two sittings and participated in 60% of session’s proceeding while the Leader of the Opposition was present in two sittings and attended 57% of the proceeding time. Parliamentary leaders of JUI-F, PkMAP, ANP and PML-N attended two sittings each while NP Parliamentary Leader attended only one sitting. However, Leaders of PML, BNP and MWM did not attend any sitting during the session.

The session witnessed one walkout by PkMAP female lawmaker for 98 minutes during 4th sitting after non-inclusion of her adjournment motion on the list of business.

Four reports including one government and three legislative reports of standing committees were presented before the House during the session. These reports included the Annual Report of Public Service Commission for year 2014 and the Standing Committee reports on the Balochistan Sound System (Regulation) Bill 2015, the Balochistan Prohibition of Expressing Matters on Walls (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and the Balochistan Public Service Commission (Amendment) Bill 2015.

Lawmakers raised 27 Points of Order (POs) that consumed 52 minutes of the session time. Moreover, five adjournment motions appeared on the list of business during the session of which two were admitted for discussion, two were withdrawn by the movers and one was deferred by the House after the assurance given to the mover by relevant Minister to look into the matter highlighted by him.

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