ISLAMABAD, June 22, 2013: Forty-six Senators took part in the debate on the federal budget during the 95th session of the Upper House, says the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) in its preliminary report released on Saturday.
Senate’s Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics, Planning and Development presented before the House 113 recommendations, which were unanimously adopted in the last sitting of the session.
The Finance Bill 2013 was presented by the Finance Minister in the first sitting of the session. Under article 73 of the constitution, the Senate may send its recommendations on the budget to the National Assembly within 14 days of its announcement.
Seventeen PPPP Senators, nine PMLN, four each of PML and ANP, three JUIF, two MQM, and one each of BNPA and PMLF Senators took part in the budget debate. Five of 11 independent Senators also participated in the budget debate, which lasted 12 hours and 35 minutes, consuming 67% of the session time.
The PMLN Senators took two hours and 37 minutes to express their views and respond to criticism on the budget.
One-fifth of the Senators taking part in the budget debate were women. In the previous budget debate in the Upper House, this ratio was one-fourth.
Out of the 17 female Senators, nine (53%) took part in the budget debate. Similarly 37 (44%) of the 84 male Senators shared their views on the budgetary proposals.
The Upper House also adopted three supplementary resolutions in the 95th session. The House condemned the attacks on Ziarat Residency, on the female students in Quetta, and the suicide attack in Mardan by adopting resolutions in the second, third, and the sixth sitting respectively.
Overall the Senate met for 20 hours and 43 minutes in eight sittings from June 12, 2013 to June 21, 2013. On average, each sitting lasted two hours and 35 minutes. Each sitting on average started 38 minutes late. In each sitting, on average, 11 Senators were present at the start, 18 at the end, and a maximum of 33 Senators at any one point of the sitting.
The Leader of the House attended six of the eight sittings while the Leader of the Opposition did not attend any. The parliamentary leader of MQM attended all eight sittings, followed by his counterparts from ANP (7) and JUIF (4). The parliamentary leaders of BNPA and PML were not present in any sitting. The only Senators of PMLF and NP attended six and three sittings respectively.
The Chairman chaired 96% proceedings of the session. The rest of the proceedings were chaired by the Deputy Chairman (3%) and a member of the Panel of the Chairpersons (1%). The Finance Minister attended five sittings.
Four Standing Committee reports were presented in this session – one in the seventh sitting and three in the last sitting.
The Standing Committee on Defence and Defence Production presented its report before the House in the seventh sitting. The Standing Committee on Interior and Narcotics Control presented its report on the inordinate delay in issuance of passports.
The Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics, Planning and Development and Privatization presented its report on the proposals for making recommendations on the Finance Bill 2013 and the Standing Committee on Industries and Production presented its report for the period from March 2012 to March 2013.
Two privilege motions were raised in the session. A PPPP Senator raised the issue of increase in the petroleum prices by OGRA before passage of the Finance Bill by the parliament as a breach of the House privilege. But the Chairman ruled that it was not a Privilege Motion and referred the matter to the Senate\’s Standing Committee on Finance.
The other motion was by an ANP legislator about the misbehavior of Peshawar Cantonment Board officials, which was referred to the Privilege Committee.
A total of 63 points of order consumed three hours and four minutes – 15% of the session time.
The Upper House witnessed three instances of walkout during the session. The first walkout was observed in the second sitting when the PPPP, JUIF, ANP and the Senators from Balochistan staged a five-minute token walkout over attack on the Ziarat Residency and bomb attacks in Quetta.
PPPP and PML Senators jointly walked out of the session on two occasions; first in the second sitting over taxation policy in the budget and the second in the seventh sitting over increase in electricity tariff.
About FAFEN: FAFEN is a network of 42 civil society organizations working to foster democratic accountability in Pakistan. It is governed by Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability.
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