FAFEN Parliament Monitor Provincial Assembly of Punjab 21st Session Report

The lack of quorum persisted during 21st session of the Punjab Assembly, which saw passage of three government bills and 20 resolutions. The session was last of the third parliamentary year and continued for 15 sittings from May 6 to May 26, 2016. The cumulative duration of the sittings was 36 hours and one minute as each sitting, on average, saw a delay of 72 minutes from its starting time and continued for two hours and 24 minutes.

The Chief Minister attended two sittings and spent 80 minutes in the House while the Leader of the Opposition was present in 14 sittings for 17 hours and 10 minutes. The Speaker presided over 70% of the proceedings, the Deputy Speaker 29% while a member of the Panel of Chairpersons acted as the Speaker for rest of the duration.

The legislative agenda brought before the House comprised eight bills including an Ordinance and a Private Member’s bill. The House passed three Government bills while others were referred to the relevant standing committees for further consideration. The bills passed by the House include the Punjab Agriculture, Food and Drug Authority Bill 2016, the Punjab Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2015 and the Fatima Jinnah Medical University Lahore (Amendment) Bill 2015. The government also introduced the Local Government (Fourth Amendment) Bill 2016, the Punjab Animal Slaughter Control (Second Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the Punjab Poultry Production Bill 2016. Moreover, the Punjab Agriculture, Food and Drug Authority Ordinance, 2016 was also laid before the House.

The House adopted 20 resolutions, of which 17 were moved by the private members. Moreover, five Private Members’ resolutions were dropped due to movers’ absence while one was deferred. One of the Government resolutions was to extend the Punjab Civilian Victims of Terrorism (Relief and Rehabilitation) Ordinance 2016 while others praised the Orange Line Train project and government’s efforts against terrorism.

Two resolutions condemned the hanging of Jamat-e-Islami’s leaders in Bangladesh and demanded the Government of Pakistan to award Nishan-e-Pakistan to them. The Assembly also condemned the drone attack in Balochistan and killing of a young girl in Abbottabad. Through other resolutions, the lawmakers urged the government to control Pre-Ramazan inflation, curb smuggling of agricultural products from India, ban the use of steroids for body building, take action against illegal “lucky committees” and sellers of unsafe drinks, check spurious pesticides, facilitate Rural Health Centers,  ensure compliance of official academic year schedule, set up university for special persons, introduce chapters on Child Safety in curriculum, and ensure free vaccination for Cervical Cancer.

The House discussed the resolutions regarding smuggling from India, Orange Line Train and hanging of JI leader. These discussions consumed 38 minutes.

The standing committees on Health and Local Government presented their reports on the Punjab Drugs (Second Amendment) Bill 2015 (Bill No. 41 of 2015), the Fatima Jinnah Medical University Lahore (Amendment) Bill 2015 (Bill No. 6 of 2016) and the Punjab Local Government (Fourth Amendment) Bill 2016 (Bill No. 21 of 2016). Moreover, the Assembly granted extension in time for presentation of nine reports.

The House held discussion on the Annual Report of the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) Lahore for the year 2013-2014 and the Annual Reports of Punjab Pension Fund for the year 2010-11 & 2011-12. The discussion on PHA’s report lasted for only three minutes while that on the Punjab Pension Fund lasted for 36 minutes.

The lawmakers raised ten Calling Attention Notices (CANs) drawing government attention to matters related to law and order. The Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs made statements on seven of these notices while two were deferred and one was not taken up.

The lawmakers submitted 54 Adjournment Motions (AMs) during the session. Of these, 27 were disposed of after government’s response, 25 were deferred, one was referred to the relevant committee and another was admitted for discussion. However, the discussion did not take place on the set date due to early adjournment of the sitting. Eighteen AMs were submitted by PTI, 15 by PML-N, 14 by PML, six by JI and one by PPPP.

As many as 497 questions were listed for answers during the session, including 269 starred questions. 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, only 107 starred questions were taken up and replied on floor of the House. The lawmakers also asked 258 supplementary questions.

The lawmakers raised 154 Points of Order (PO) consuming 215 minutes of the session’s duration. The issues related to the governance, security, development and business of the House were discussed on POs.

The lawmakers submitted six Questions of Privilege during the session. Five of these were referred to the Privileges Committee while one was dropped due to mover’s absence.

The Assembly witnessed ten instances of protest or walkout during 21st session. The entire opposition jointly staged protest or walkout five times against the government on matters related to the business of the House and Panama Papers Leak while lawmakers belonging to PPPP and JI also registered individual protests twice. Moreover, treasury lawmakers also staged a walkout and a protest.

The lack of quorum persisted throughout the session and was pointed out 13 times. Eight sittings had to be adjourned without completing their agenda due to lack of quorum while on other occasions, the quorum was completed after ringing the bells.

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