ISLAMABAD, June 14, 2012: On the third day of general discussion on the budget in the Punjab Assembly, only 14 legislators (four percent of the total membership) were present in the House at the start of the sitting and 19 when it was adjourned on Thursday.
The Chief Minister was absent for the seventh time during this session. He only attended the sitting on last Saturday when the budget was presented. The Leader of the Opposition along with the parliamentary leaders of MMAP, PML and PMLZ were also absent from the proceedings.
A maximum of 65 legislators were observed to be present at one point of the sitting. The Punjab Assembly is the largest legislature in Pakistan with a current total membership of 369.
The Quorum was visibly lacking at various stages of the sitting. It was pointed out by a PPPP Member. The Chair ordered the bells to be rung for five minutes, but due to lack of Quorum the proceedings were suspended for 30 minutes.
A total of 10 Members – four PML, three PPPP, two PMLN and one PMLF legislator – spoke on the budget for 124 minutes (59%) of the sitting time.
Following are some key observations of the parliamentary business:
Members’ Participation in House Proceedings
- The Punjab Assembly met for three hours and 30 minutes.
- The sitting started at 1115 hours instead of the scheduled starting time of 1000 hours. The proceedings started an hour and 15 minutes late.
- The Speaker chaired the sitting for an hour and 20 minutes while the remaining time was presided over by Members of Panel of Chairpersons. The Deputy Speaker was absent.
- The Chief Minister and the Leader of the Opposition did not attend the sitting.
- Only the parliamentary leader of PMLF was present while the leaders of PML, MMAP and PMLZ were absent.
- Only fourteen Members (4% of the total Membership of 369) were present at the start while 19 (5%) were there when the sitting was adjourned. A maximum of 65 (18%) were present at one point of the sitting.
- Five minority Members were present.
Representation and Responsiveness
- The Minister for Finance presented the Annual Budget Statement on June 9, 2012.
- A total of 10 Members – four PML, three PPPP, two PMLN and one PMLF legislator – spoke on the budget for 124 minutes (59%) of the sitting time.
- There was no other formal agenda on the Orders of the Day.
Order and Institutionalization
- No Points of Order consumed two minutes of sitting time.
- There were no instances of protests, boycotts or walkouts.
- Orders of the Day were available to legislators, observers and others.
- Information on Members’ attendance was unavailable to observers and the public.
- The Quorum was visibly lacking at various stages of the sitting. It was pointed out by a PPPP Member. The Chair ordered the bells to be rung for five minutes, but due to lack of Quorum the proceedings were suspended for 30 minutes.
The Daily Factsheet is based on direct observation of Punjab Assembly proceedings conducted by PATTAN Development Organization, a member organization of FAFEN
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