ISLAMABAD: The Punjab Assembly passed 20 bills and adopted 17 resolutions during its 19th session, says Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) in its session report.
The session, comprising 21 sittings, started on January 29, 2016 and concluded on February 26, 2016. On average, each sitting started 77 minutes behind the schedule and lasted two hours and 45 minutes.
FAFEN conducts a headcount of members at the start and end of each sitting and documents the actual time spent by the legislators, including the Chief Minister, Opposition Leader, Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
According to FAFEN’s observation, the lawmakers’ attendance remained low throughout the session – with an average of 20 (5%) members present at the start and 58 (16%) at the end of each sitting.
The Chief Minister remained absent throughout the session, while the Opposition Leader attended 19 out of 21 sittings for a total of 42% of the session’s time. Three sittings (16th, 17th and 20th) were adjourned due to lack of quorum pointed out by PTI lawmakers.
Nearly 74% of the session was chaired by the Speaker, who was present in 19 sittings. The Deputy Speaker was present in 11 sittings and chaired 21% of the session. A member of Panel of Chairpersons chaired one per cent of the session time while rest of the time was consumed in breaks. Among the parliamentary leaders in the House, JI leader attended 12 sittings followed by PPPP (8), PML-Z (one) and none by PML, PNML and BNAP.
Forty bills sponsored by the government appeared on the list of business. Of these, 20 were passed by the House, while 17 were introduced and three were not taken up.
According to the sub section 6 of section 91 of Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab 1997, “an Ordinance laid before the Assembly under clause (2) of Article 128 of the Constitution shall be deemed to be a Bill introduced in the Assembly on the day it is so laid”.
The bills passed by the House included the Punjab Safe Cities Authority Bill 2015; the Punjab Special Protection Unit Bill 2015; the Punjab Revenue Authority (Amendment) Bill 2015; the Infrastructure Development Authority of the Punjab Bill 2015; the Punjab Food Authority (Amendment) Bill 2015; the Punjab Pure Food (Amendment) Bill 2015; the Punjab Local Government (First Amendment) Bill 2016; the Punjab Local Government (Second Amendment) Bill 2016; the Punjab Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (Amendment) Bill 2015; the Punjab Public Representatives’ Laws (Amendment) Bill 2016; the Punjab Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Bill 2015; the Canal and Drainage (Amendment) Bill 2015; the continuance of the University of Okara Bill 2015; the Punjab Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2015; the Punjab Procurement Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2015; the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Bill, 2015; the Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion and Regulation) (Amendment) Bill, 2015; the Punjab Education Foundation (Amendment) Bill, 2015, the Ali Institute of Education Lahore (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and the Ghazi University, Dera Ghazi Khan (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015.
Seventeen introduced bills included the Provincial Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Ordinance 2015; the Fort Monroe Development Authority Ordinance 2015; the Punjab Forensic Science Agency (Amendment) Ordinance 2015; the Punjab Education Foundation (Amendment) Ordinance 2015; the Punjab Vigilance Committees Ordinance 2016; the Fatima Jinnah Medical University Lahore (Amendment) Ordinance 2015; the Punjab Procurement Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Ordinance 2015; the Punjab Local Government (Amendment) Ordinance 2016; the Punjab Prohibition of Child Labour at Bricks Kilns Ordinance 2016; the Punjab Marriage Functions Ordinance 2015; the Punjab Local Government (Second Amendment) Ordinance 2016; the Punjab Economic Research Institute (Amendment) Ordinance 2016; the Punjab Forest (Amendment) Ordinance 2016
the Punjab Public Representatives Laws (Amendment) Bill 2016; the Punjab Animals Slaughter Control (Amendment) Bill 2016; the Punjab Maintenance of Public Order (Amendment) Bill 2016 and the Punjab Local Government (Third Amendment) Bill 2016.
Three government bills not taken up by the House were the Punjab Private Education Commission Bill 2016; the Punjab Restriction of Employment of Children Bill 2016 and the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (Amendment) Bill, 2015.
The House adopted 17 resolutions during the session. Six resolutions were about governance issues followed by condemnation, tribute and commemoration (5); health (3), legislative measures (2) and petroleum sector (one).
Twelve Call Attention Notices (CANs) relating to law and order were taken up by the House and disposed of by the House after receiving reply from the concerned minister/department. Three CANs remained pending as the relevant minister/department did not respond to them.
The House took up six Privilege Motions. Five motions – PPPP (2) and one each by PML-N, PTI and an Independent lawmaker – were regarding the misbehavior of government officials against the movers while one submitted by PML-N lawmaker was against the Revenue Department for submitting wrong and misleading answer to his question in the House.
Lawmakers raised 170 Points of Order which consumed 216 minutes of the session’s time. Out of 385 starred questions, only 171 (44%) were taken up during the session and responded to by the relevant ministries/departments. The legislators also raised 405 supplementary questions to gain further clarity on government’s responses.
A total of 24 – PML-N (17), PIT (4), PML (2) and PPPP (one) – lawmakers discussed issues related to agriculture and grievances of sugarcane growers for 147 minutes. The House passed a motion under Rule 244-A and approved 24 amendments in the Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Assembly.
Of 90 Adjournment Motions (AMs), the House disposed of 67 AMs on a range of issues while 23 remained pending after receiving no reply from the concerned ministries/departments. In addition, the House witnessed presentation of 31 reports of which 15 were relating to the legislative proposals.
The House witnessed 15 instances of individual or joint walkouts/protests and one boycott. The entire opposition walked out on nine occasions consuming 149 minutes while four protests consuming 53 minutes were also staged. PTI lawmakers protested for six minutes over non-satisfactory reply to a question while the sole JI lawmaker walked out of the House against the utilization of Bahawalpur Development Fund for the train project in Lahore.
The entire Opposition boycotted the proceeding for not getting assurance from the treasury benches to legislate ban on sale of liquor in the province during fifth sitting.
PTI lawmakers pointed out quorum on seven occasions. The House was adjourned thrice due to the presence of less than 25 percent lawmakers; however, it was found complete upon counting on two occasions but at two others, the sitting had to be suspended for 42 minutes.
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