ISLAMABAD, June 28, 2010: The nineteenth sitting of the 23rd Session was marked by low attendance of the members, with only 58 present at the outset. The Benazir Income Support Programme Bill, 2009 was passed by the National Assembly after thorough debates and deliberations during the sitting. The Prime Minister attended the sitting for 40 minutes, while the Leader of Opposition was absent, reports the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) in its Daily Factsheet on the National Assembly Proceedings.
The following are some key observations of the Parliamentary Business:
Members’ participation in House proceedings
- The National Assembly met for 02 hours and 05 minutes.
- The nineteenth sitting started at 1745 Hours against the scheduled starting time of 1700 hours. The House proceedings started late by 45 minutes.
- The Deputy Speaker presided over the entire sitting, except for the last 2 minutes which were chaired by the Speaker.
- The Prime Minister attended the sitting for 40 minutes, while the Leader of Opposition remained absent.
- Parliamentary leaders of PPPS and PMLF were present while the leaders of PML, MQM, ANP, NPP, MMAP, and BNPA were absent
- The Chief Whips of PPPP, PMLN, PML, MQM, ANP and PPPS were present, while the chief whips of MMAP, PMLF, NPP and BNPA were absent.
- As many as 22 members appealed for leave to be absent from the sitting.
- A total of 58(17%) members were present at the outset of the sitting, while 160 (47%) members at the end of the sitting.
- As many as six minority members were present during the 19th sitting.
Representation and Responsiveness
- There were 2 Calling Attention Notices on the Orders of the Day. Both the CANs were taken up by the House.
- The first Calling Attention Notice taken up by the House was directed to the Ministry of Interior regarding ‘non-reduction in the fares of transport in Islamabad despite decreased in the prices of petrol and diesel’ .This CAN was raised by 4 PMLN members.
- The other CAN, taken up by the House was directed to the Ministry of Water and Power regarding the ‘increase in the prices of electricity in the country’. This CAN was also raised by 4 PMLN members.
- A total of 24 questions were listed on the agenda to be taken up during the Question Hour. However, only 09 questions were raised and responded to by the relevant minister
- There were five Bills on the Orders of the Day. The Benazir Income Support Programme Bill, 2009 out of five was passed after thorough debates and deliberations amongst members. Two Bills, The Carriage by Air Bill, 2010 and The Securities Bill, 2010 were introduced, while the remaining two bills were deferred as the prime mover was not present during the sitting.
- There were eight Ordinances on the Orders of the Day, which were introduced in the House.
Order and institutionalization
- 05 Points of Order was raised, taking up 11 minutes of the House proceedings. However, it didn’t require Speaker’s ruling.
- There was no Adjournment Motion on the Orders of the Day.
- There was an instance of a walkout by a female parliamentarian of PML over the issue of “the termination of contract employees from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture”. The walkout lasted 15 minutes.
- 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 during the sitting. However, lack of quorum was not pointed out by any of the members of the National Assembly.
The Daily Factsheet is based on direct observation of the Senate proceedings conducted by Center for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), a member organization of FAFEN
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