- Prime Minister attends four out of 18 sittings
- Agreed guidelines between the government and the opposition largely followed
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly witnessed participation of 59% lawmakers in the debate on Finance Bill, 2020 during budget session held between June 5 and June 30, 2020, observes Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) in its session report.
Special arrangements were made for presentation of the budget in the National Assembly to avoid spread of COVID- 19 among parliamentarians during the 22nd session. The government and the opposition parties except JUI-F agreed upon the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the participation and presence of lawmakers in the Assembly Hall amid coronavirus pandemic. The terms of the agreement, or the guidelines provided to ensure implementation of the SOPs to stop the spread of Covid-19, were agreed upon in the meetings of Parliamentary Leaders.
The session, comprising 18 sittings, witnessed introduction of the Finance Bill during 5th sitting while the budget process consumed 14 out of total 18 sittings. As many as 199 out of 340 lawmakers (59%) participated in the general discussion on the budget despite COVID-19 phase, while the debate continued for 62 hours and 42 minutes (60% of the proceedings). Whereas, 230 out of 341 lawmakers (67%) participated in the general discussion on the budget during the previous budget session which continued for 68 hours and 44 minutes (64% of the proceedings).
During the budget session (22nd), the male and female lawmakers consumed 81% and 19% of its time, respectively. Out of 342 total membership in the lower house, one seat is lying vacant due to the death of MMAP lawmaker Munir Khan Orakzai, while the Speaker is excluded from the total count due to his impartial role as custodian of the House.
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