Marked Improvement Witnessed in National Assembly’s Proceedings

  • 73% of Agenda Addressed during 47th Session
  • Important Laws on Elections and Right to Information Passed
  • Private Member’s Bill on Organ Transplantation Approved

ISLAMABAD, October 12, 2017: The National Assembly transacted 73% of the scheduled business during its 47th session while the proceedings marked an improvement with regards to the quorum and the attendance of lawmakers, observes Free and Fair Election Network in its session report based on direct observation of the House proceedings.

The Assembly did not take up 19% of the agenda items appearing on the Orders of the Day whereas 4% agenda was dropped due to the absence of relevant lawmakers while an additional 3% business kept pending till the prorogation of the session. Only one out of eight sittings was adjourned due to the lack of quorum in comparison to the five out of nine sittings during the preceding session when the proceedings had to be wound up due to quorum issues.

The House approved the important legislation on the conduct of future elections in the form of the Elections (Amendment) Act, 2017 which also got passage from the Upper House of the Parliament i.e. the Senate of Pakistan. The lawmakers also gave assent to a bill, the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017, seeking information from the state and government departments, by replacing the archaic Freedom of Information Ordinance, 2002. A private member’s bill providing for voluntary donation of human organs in case of accidental or brain death was also passed by the House.

In total, the House passed five bills, referred eight legislative proposals to relevant committees, adopted four resolutions, sought government’s response on nine Calling Attention Notices and held three Question Hours during the reporting period.

The eight-sitting session spanned over 17 hours and 41 minutes. Each sitting, on average, continued for two hours and 12 minutes. The Prime Minister was observed to be present during two sittings for an hour and four minutes (six percent of the proceedings), while the Leader of the Opposition attended all the sittings and remained present for four hours and 29 minutes (25% of the proceedings).

According to official attendance records, 200 (58%) lawmakers attended each sitting on an average. The highest attendance – 255 members present – was recorded during the first sitting while the lowest attendance – 130 members present – was witnessed during the fifth sitting. As per the headcount conducted by FAFEN at the commencement and conclusion of the sittings, on average 63 lawmakers were present at the start and 80 at the adjournment of each sitting. Out of eight minority lawmakers, on average, six were present during each sitting.

The Speaker remained present during four sittings and presided over 18% of the proceedings (three hours and 16 minutes) while the Deputy Speaker attended eight sittings and chaired 72% of the proceedings (12 hours and 37 minutes). Nearly four percent of the sittings (40 minutes) were presided over by a Member of the Panel of Chairpersons while five percent of the proceedings (53 minutes) were lost in suspensions due to various prayer breaks.

Among the leaders of 18 parliamentary parties, those of PPPP and PkMAP remained present in every sitting while the sole member of APML attended seven sittings. The parliamentary leaders of PTI, MQM, PML and PML-F did not attend any of the sittings.

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