Member’s Low Interest Observed in 5th session of Punjab Assembly

ISLAMABAD, December 14, 2013: The fifth session of Punjab Assembly was marked by low attendance of members, showing lack of interest in the assembly proceedings, however, it witnessed the passage of eight bills, including the local government and right to information, says Free and Fair Election Network in its Preliminary report based on the direct observation of the session.

On average 59 MPAs were present at the start (16% of the total membership – 371) and 61 (16%) at the adjournment of the proceedings. On average, a maximum of 31% member’s attendance was observed in the session. Due to absence of members from the House, quorum was found lacking at several occasions in the proceedings. Opposition members – PTI (7), PML (one) – pointed put lack of quorum on eight occasions during the session. The bells were rung at six occasions while the two sittings were adjourned till next day due to lack of quorum.

Besides the provincial legislators, the attendance and interest of key members was also low as the Chief Minister did not attend a single sitting throughout the session, whereas the Leader of Opposition was present for 55% of the session’s time. Speaker was present in six sittings and presided over 37% of the session’s time while 61% of the proceedings were chaired by the Deputy Speaker. The remaining two percent of the proceedings time was consumed in two session breaks.

The House passed eight bills on local government, employees’ social security, right to information, development, weights and measure, workmen’s compensation, employee’s cost of living and wages for unskilled worker. Seven ordinances – four on local government, one each related to employees’ social security, right to information, development – were laid in the House which were later passed in the House in the form of bills.

Thirty-seven members’ debated the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Bill 2013, the Lahore Development Authority (Amendment) Bill 2013 and the Punjab Minimum Wages for Unskilled Workers (Amendment) Bill 2013 for four hour and 10 minute.

Six MPAs – PTI (4) and PML-N (2) – discussed the Transparency and Right to Information Bill 2013 for 27 minutes. The Lahore Development Authority (Amendment) Bill 2013 (LDA) was debated in the House for three hours and 29 minutes. Members of PTI took lead in the debate as 16 MPAs discussed the LDA bill for two hours and 35 minutes, followed by six PML-N members who debated the legislation for 29 minutes. Members of JI and PML expressed their views over LDA bill for 15 and 10 minutes respectively. Six legislators – PTI (4), PML-N (2) – held 14-minute discussion on the Punjab Minimum Wages for Unskilled Workers (Amendment) Bill 2013.

Starting from November 29, 2013 to December 13, 2013, the fifth session spanned over 11 sittings with each sitting meeting for three hours and 36 minutes with a delay of an hour and 38 minutes on average. Two breaks were observed in the session.

The House adopted nine of the 13 resolutions. The adopted resolutions were on the protection of Quranic versus printed in newspapers, lowering the price of cement sacks, fixing the contamination of drainage system with poisonous water in Faisalabad, attack on a media outlet in Karachi, granting university status to College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences in Jhang, encroachments at a mausoleum, increasing employment quota for special people, UN to take action against Bangladesh for giving punishment to JI leaders and paying tribute to Nelson Mandela on his death.

Seven calling attention notices on the issues of law and order were taken up. Out of 248 starred questions (requiring oral response), 101 were taken up on the floor of the House while 147 were left unaddressed. MPAs asked 232 supplementary questions for further clarification.

The session witnessed seven walkouts for 11 hours and nine minutes. Four of the walkouts were made by entire opposition over disregarding Drone attacks agenda, dismissal of Chairman of NADRA and not considering proposed amendments in LG bill.

Nineteen legislators – PML-N (nine), PTI (seven) and one each of PPPP, JI and Independent – expressed their views in the general discussion on the law and order in the country. The discussion consumed eight-percent of the session’s time.

Members raised 49 points of order which consumed an hour and 12 minutes of the proceedings.

 

This Preliminary report is based on direct observation of Punjab Assembly proceedings conducted by PATTAN Development Organization, a member organization of FAFEN.