Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly: 43% MPAs Debate Budget

ISLAMABAD, July 4, 2013: Fifty-two lawmakers (43%) took part in the general debate on the finance bill during the budget session of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly which also adopted nine resolutions, says the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) in its preliminary report.

Twelve female and 40 male MPAs debated the budget for 11 hours during the session which was prorogued on July 3, 2013. The leading opposition parties PMLN and JUIF dominated the budget debate. 15 PMLN and 13 JUIF legislators expressed views on the annual budget. Nine members of the ruling PTI, five QWP, three each of the JI and PPPP, and two members each of AJIP and ANP also took part in the budget debate. The sole APML member did not participate in the budget debate.

The house approved 59 demands for grants of the finance bill 2013 as all 32 cut motions were withdrawn by the opposition.

The proceedings were interrupted by six protests consuming an hour and 13 minutes- 3% of the session time. A PPPP member walked out to protest the remarks made by a colleague. The PMLN MPAs staged a walkout against the incident of police detaining students causing them to miss their practical examination.

PMLN, JUIF, PPPP and ANP members protested the law minister’s interference during a member’s speech by walking out of the house. All opposition parties staged a walkout over the Speaker’s continuous absence. A PPPP female staged an 11-minute walkout, saying she was not satisfied with the minister’s response over the law and order situation.

The opposition jointly walked out to protest against the government’s unwillingness to incorporate their amendment in the resolution on drone attacks, which was to demand closing of NATO supply line. As consensus could not be reached over the resolution, it was not moved during the session.

Nine resolutions were adopted during the session. They were about the deportation of Pakistanis from Saudi Arabia, absence of prayer breaks on the Daewoo bus service, destruction of Madain Grid Station in recent floods, demand of a jirga for 23 constitutional rights and setting up of new branches of National Bank in district Torghar, ban on transmission of unethical and unIslamic content on television channels, empowering the Speaker to form Standing Committees, increasing the approved fund for the construction of Lowari Tunnel, calling on WAPDA to end unannounced and prolonged power cuts in the province.

In addition to the Finance bill 2013, the assembly passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Services Tribunal Ordinance 2013.

The session spread over 13 sittings from June 17 to July 3, 2013 lasted 43 hours and 26 minutes[1], with each sitting on average lasting three hours and 37 minutes. Similarly on average each sitting started 45 minutes behind schedule.

The Chief Minister was present in nine sittings attending 75% of the proceedings while the Leader of the Opposition attended one sitting. The provincial Minister for Finance attended all but one sitting during the session.

The Speaker presided over six sittings for 36% of the session time while the Deputy Speaker chaired 64% of the proceedings – 11 sittings.

As the KP Assembly does not make public the attendance record of its members, FAFEN observer conducts a headcount at the beginning, the end and at the time of maximum attendance in the house. On average 49 (41%) members were present at the start of the sittings and 56 (47%) at the end. Similarly on average a maximum of 79 (66%) members were present during the session.

Out of the 18 starred questions, 11 were taken up.  MPAs asked an additional 14 supplementary questions on the ministerial replies.

The incomplete Regi Lalma plot scheme, damages to Ayub Bridge during floods, poor condition of Thaimathgara Road, issuance of Zakat to undeserving people, dacoities on road linking district Buner to Mardan, construction of a Madrissa (seminary) in Gulshan Rehman Colony in Kohat were the issues highlighted through six calling attention notices taken up by the house.

A JUIF female moved a privilege motion on not implementing a joint resolution passed by the previous government about establishing a Khyber Bank branch in Samarbagh. The motion was taken up by the house.

Lawmakers raised 30 points of order consuming an hour and 11 minutes of the proceedings.

About FAFEN: FAFEN, a coalition of 42 civil society organizations, started the direct observation of the National Assembly proceedings in 2008, using a methodology based the rules of the parliamentary business. The direct observation was extended to the proceedings of Senate

[1] FAFEN did not observe the 7th sitting of the budget session.