FAFEN Parliament Monitor National Assembly of Pakistan 31st Session Report

The 31st session of the National Assembly was marked by the passage of four government bills and introduction of eight bills, says Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN).

The session, comprising six sittings, started on April 7 and prorogued on April 15, 2016. On average, each sitting started19 minutes behind the schedule and lasted three hours and 43 minutes.

On average, 52 (15%) lawmakers were present at the start and 36 (11%) at the end of each sitting while a maximum of 224 (65%) members attended the sitting.

The Prime Minister did not attend any sitting, while the Opposition Leader was present in four out of six sittings. The Speaker, who remained present in five sittings, presided over 40% of the session. The Deputy Speaker was present in five sittings and chaired 51% of the proceeding. On average, eight minority members attended the session while the House took three breaks consuming 9% (117 minutes) of the session time.

The Parliamentary leaders of the QWP, APML, JI attended six sittings each followed by PNL-Z (5), AMLP, PPPP, PkMAP (4 each), ANP, AJIP, JUI-F, BNP (3 each), NPP, PML-F (2 each) and one each by PTI, PML and NP. However, none of the sittings was attended by Parliamentary Leader of MQM.

Four government bills –the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill, 2015; the Foreign Exchange Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2014; the Foreigners (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the Patents (Amendment) Bill, 2016 – were passed during the session.

In addition, eight bills – including five private – were introduced and sent to the relevant standing committees while a private bill – the Law Reforms (Amendment) Bill, 2015 – was not taken up by the House.

Five private bills introduced in the House included the National Accountability (Amendment) Bill, 2016; the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (Amendment of Article 51), the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the Trade Organizations (Amendment) Bill, 2016. In addition, three government bills were introduced in the House which included the Companies (Appointment of Legal Advisors) (Amendment) Bill, 2016; the Central Law Officers (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

The House did not take up any of the five resolutions which appeared on the agenda during the third sitting. These resolutions were about fixation of minimum pension at Rs. 50,000; increase the basic salaries of the Federal Government employees in proportion to price-hike; steps to improve the performance of Pakistan Cricket Board; waiving off general sales tax on urea, pesticides as well as seeds and simplifying the procedure of payment of pension.

Six Calling Attention Notices (CANs) addressed to various ministries were taken up during the session. These CANs were on the issue of poor performance of Pakistan Cricket Team during T-20 World Cup 2016; application of custom Act to Malakand Division and District Kohistan; non-provision of financial assistance and relief package in rain affected areas of Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; non-increase in salaries of employees of Pakistan Steel Mills; increase in poverty and inadequate measures to control disease of allergy in Islamabad.

Two CANs were not taken up by the House pertaining to gas load shedding for domestic consumers in Mirpurkhas, Hyderabad and only one out of twenty four power generation projects for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The House took up only one out of six motions under Rule 259 to debate the matters arising out of Panama Papers. Twenty five lawmakers – PML-N (10), PTI (5), PPPP & JI (3 each), JUI-F (2), MQM and AMLP (one each) – discussed this motion consuming 25 percent (337 minutes) of the session time.

On the other hand, motions on the matters including non-installation of new car manufacturing units in the country; performance of Pakistan Cricket Board; dilapidated condition of Parliament Lodges; free of cost organic farming practices and welfare of the Pakistan Railways employees were left unaddressed.

A motion under Rule 244 (B) was not taken up by the House which was about constituting a Special Committee to investigate into the loans of billions of rupees written off by the banks presently during last three financial years.

In addition, the House witnessed the presentation of three Standing Committees’ Periodic Reports while annual reports of the Council of Common Interest for the year 2013-14, 2014-15, second quarterly report of Central Board of Directors of the State Bank of Pakistan for the year 2015 and annual report of Federal Public Service Commission for the year 2014 were also presented.

Amendment in sub-rule (1) of rule 200 of the Rules of Procedure for substituting the words “ascertainment of the Leader of the House” with the words “election of the Prime Minister” was considered by the House.

The House took up 27 out of 114 (24%) starred questions appearing on the agenda, while the lawmakers raised 51 supplementary questions during the session. In addition, the members raised a total of 99 Points of Order that consumed 268 minutes (20%) of the session time.

The session witnessed three walkouts that consumed 27 minutes of the proceeding time. Entire Opposition except MQM staged token walkout for four minute in 3rd sitting against the federal government for withdrawing tax free zone facilities from Division Malakand and District Kohistan. A lawmaker belonging to PML-N also staged walkout on the same issue for four minutes against the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. MQM lawmakers walked out of the House for 19 minutes in 5th sitting against arrest of its party leaders and workers.

JUI-F lawmaker pointed out quorum during 2nd sitting that was found incomplete upon counting and led to premature adjournment of the sitting.

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