FAFEN Parliament Monitor National Assembly of Pakistan 30th Session Report

The National Assembly passed seven government bills and adopted nine resolutions during its 30th session held between March 14 and March 25, 2016.

Session Time and Attendance: The cumulative duration of seven sittings was 18 hours and 42 minutes while each sitting, on average, started five minutes behind the schedule and continued for two hours and 40 minutes. The Leader of the House did not attend any sitting while the Leader of the Opposition was present in four sittings. The Speaker presided over 46% of the proceeding, the Deputy Speaker 47% while Members of the Panel of Chairpersons chaired the proceeding for rest of the duration.

Agenda and Participation: The House addressed 78% agenda that was placed before it while the remaining agenda could not be taken up either due to the absence of relevant lawmakers or early adjournment of the sitting. There appeared 73 different agenda items on Orders of the Day, of these 57 were taken up and 16 were left unaddressed. This agenda does not include the questions that were entered in separate lists on each government day.

The lawmakers may participate in the proceeding of the House by submitting agenda items and/or contributing orally to the debates taking place in the House. Among 342 Members of the National Assembly, 43% percent (150) lawmakers took part in the proceeding against this criteria. Forty lawmakers sponsored agenda, 55 took part in debates while another group of 55 lawmakers participated both in the debates and submitted agenda items. The lawmakers belonging to smaller parties were more active than those affiliated with larger parties. The participation of female lawmakers was also proportionately higher than their male colleagues.

Legislation: The legislative agenda brought before the House comprised 23 bills – 13 government and 10 private. Seven government bills were passed, including five on economy-related matters while five were referred to the relevant standing committees after being introduced while one government bill was not taken up. Similarly, eight private bills were sent to the committees for review, one was rejected and another not taken up. The House also approved a motion to refer the Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (Conversion) Bill, 2016 to the Joint Sitting of the Parliament after its rejection in the Senate.

Resolutions: The House adopted nine resolutions – seven of which were private – and rejected one while two private resolutions were dropped after appearing on the agenda due to the absence of the sponsors. Among others, the House also approved a resolution seeking extension in the term of the Private Power and Infrastructure Board (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015. Moreover, a multi-party resolution was also passed to condemn attacks in Brussels, Belgium.

The private resolutions urged the government to declare Holi, Dewali and Easter as closed holidays for minorities, formulate Umrah policy, strengthen Pakistan-Afghanistan border security, provide on-campus residence to female students, hold population census, conduct fresh surveys for Benazir Income Support Programme and establish separate counters for women at NADRA and Passport Offices.

Reports before the House: The Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization presented reports on five legislative proposals while the Standing Committee on Defence also reported back a bill to the House. Four standing committees presented their periodical performance reports as well. Moreover, a statutory Annual Report of the National Commission on Status of Women was laid before the House.

Calling Attention Notices: Thirteen Calling Attention Notices (CANs) were included on ‘Orders of the Day’ during the session. The ministers or their parliamentary secretaries made statements on 11 of these notices while the notice regarding poor performance of Pakistani Cricket Team was withdrawn by the movers and another about non-representation of FATA in the Council of Common Interests was not addressed.

Questions: The lawmakers asked 383 questions during the session, including 217 starred and 166 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, the National Assembly took up only a quarter (57) of starred questions for oral answers. Meanwhile, 68% (114) of 166 unstarred questions received replies during the session. All the questions were addressed to 34 government ministries and departments with highest  number of questions posed to the Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control (55) followed by Ministries of Water & Power (63) and Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization (41).

The lawmakers belonging to PPPP asked 112 questions, PTI (101), PML-N and MQM (51 each), JUI-F (33), Independents (16), JI (13), PkMAP (6) and AJIP (1). These questions were asked by 52 lawmakers, including 27 women and 25 men.

Motions under Rule 259 and 244(B): The House did not hold discussion on any of the ten motions under Rule 259. Similarly, a motion under Rule 244(B) seeking constitution of a Special Committee to probe into cases of writing off loans during last three years was also not taken up.

Matters of Public Importance under Rule 87: Moved by a PPPP lawmaker under Rule 87, the House discussed the performance of the National Accountability Bureau on a Private Members’ Day. Four lawmakers spoke on the subject for 34 minutes.

Points of Order: The lawmakers raised 110 Points of Order consuming four hours of the session’s duration and discussed various issues related to the governance, security, development and business of the House.

Protest: The women lawmakers of the Opposition registered their protest against depriving them of development funds. A lawmaker belonging to JUI-F also once walked out when he was disallowed by the Chair from speaking on a Point of Order.

Quorum: The lack of quorum was pointed out only once during the entire session.

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