FAFEN Parliament Monitor Senate of Pakistan 126th Session Report

ISLAMABAD, March 11, 2016: With an average of 16% Senators present at the start and 26% at the end of each sitting, the 126th session of Senate passed six bills and adopted ten resolutions, says Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN).

The last session of 13th Parliamentary year comprising ten sittings, started on February 29 and concluded on March 11, 2016. Six sittings were held on time while four others started behind the scheduled time. On average, each sitting started two minutes behind the schedule and lasted three hour and 21 minutes.

The Prime Minister did not attend the entire session. It is stated in sub-rule (2A) of Rule 61 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate that Prime Minister shall attend the Prime Minister’s Zero Hour (last hour of sitting) at least once a week when the Senate is in Session.

The Chairman, however, attended five sittings and presided over 46% of the session’s time. The Deputy Chairman attended five sittings and chaired 40% of the proceedings, while 12% of the time was presided over by the Panel of Presiding Officers and 2% time was consumed in breaks. The Leader of the House attended 90% of the session’s time by making his presence in all ten sittings, while the Opposition Leader remained present in five sitting, attending the 39% of the Session time.

The House passed five government bills – the Futures Market Bill, 2015; the Civil Servants (Amendment) Bill, 2015, the Patent (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the Pakistan Health Research Council Bill, 2015 and the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2015. One private member bill – the Domestic Workers (Employment Rights) Bill, 2015 was also passed by the House.

Meanwhile, four government bills including the Offences in Respect of Banks (Special Courts) (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the Equity Participation Fund (Repeal) Bill, 2016; the Banks (Nationalization) (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the National University of Sciences and Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2016 were introduced and referred to the relevant committees.  Four private members’ bills introduced in the House were the Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill, 2016; the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2016; the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the Contempt of Court (Amendment) Bill, 2016 while the Un-attended Orphans (Rehabilitation and Welfare) Bill, 2016 was referred to the Business Advisory Committee.

The House rejected the Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (Conversion) Bill, 2015 and deferred the National Command Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2015. A bill – the National Command Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2015 – was withdrawn by the mover.

The House took up all 12 Calling Attention Notices (CANs) appearing on the agenda. Two CANs were   related to Foreign Affairs and one each was addressed to Housing & Works, Defence Production, Human Rights, Capital Administration and Development Division, Commerce, Finance and Revenue, Inter-Provincial Coordination, Information and Broadcasting, Establishment Division and Parliamentary Affairs.

Ten resolutions were adopted which were about condolence on death of former Senator Nisar Muhammad Khan; condemning terrorist attack in Charsada, announcement of special package for economic and educational development in FATA; tribute to Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy;  renovation of dilapidated federal lodges; increase in profit rates on National Saving Schemes; establishment of Day Care Centre in every federal government institution; revisiting Indus Water Treaty 1960; purchasing electronic voting machines for ECP and equal opportunities for women in various secotrs.

The Senate debated five out of nine motions under Rule 218 which dealt with impacts of Prime Minister’s Health Program, delay in payment of $800 million to government after privatization of PTCL, role of government in promoting harmony, policy of government regarding national and International NGOs and commercial activities in residential areas of Islamabad.

The House debated an Adjournment Motion (AM) about statement Foreign Secretary of America that Saudi Arabia can purchase nuclear bomb from Pakistan in which case Pakistan can face consequences of violation of Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Two AMs about visit of Prime Minister and Chief of Army Staff to Iran and terrorist attack at Bacha Khan University were not taken up as the House had already debated these issues. An AM about sales tax on agricultural inputs was termed inadmissible and another about behavior of staff of the Pakistani Foreign Missions with overseas Pakistanis was dropped due to absence of mover.

Six periodical reports were presented by the ministers under Rule 265A on the recommendations of the standing committees and the matters referred by the House. A motion under Rule 196 (1) was passed by the House to adopt the report of the Special Committee to monitor the implementation of Gas Infrastructure Development Cess Bill, 2015.

A motion Under Rule 60 was discussed which was about the construction of high rise buildings in Sector E-11, Islamabad without obtaining NOC/permission from CDA. The debate was held on reports of the Senate Special Committee on Devolution Process about equal representation of provinces in d Administrative Board, Councils, Bodies and replies of Minister for Interior on questions raised by lawmakers about National Action Plan.

The House adopted proposed amendments in rules 184 and 210 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate, 2012. A motion was passed by the House for electing 12 members in the Committee on Delegated Legislation.

A total of 28 reports by Senate Committees were presented while presentation period of ten reports was extended and two papers were also laid.  The Senate formally launched the Annual Report at the completion of 13th Parliamentary year under Rule 257 (3).

The House took up 113 out of 184 (61%) starred questions on floor of the house, while the Senators raised another 238 supplementary questions. Of these questions, 22 were raised to Ministry of Capital Administration and Development Division followed by Ministry of Finance (21), Interior and Narcotics Control (16), Petroleum and Natural Resources (14) and Water and Power (11).

The lawmakers raised 60 points of public importance that consumed 150 minutes of the session. The House witnessed four walkouts consuming 13 minutes of the session. These walkouts were conducted by the Opposition lawmakers and also by some government allies against unsatisfactory reply by the government to questions and various issues.

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