ISLAMABAD, April 25, 2014: The Upper House of the Parliament passed one government bill, amended the Rules of Procedure while the Protection of Pakistan Bill 2014 was tabled during the first session of 12th parliamentary year of the Senate, says the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) in its preliminary report.
A total of seven bills – five government and two private members – were introduced before the Senate, of which, the House passed one government bill – the Surveying and Mapping Bill 2014 after discussion. The Sales Tax (Amendment) Bill 2014 was laid in the Senate seeking its recommendations however the Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization recommended to the National Assembly that the bill may not be passed in its present form. The House sent the remaining five bills to the relevant standing committees for further consideration that also includes the Protection of Pakistan Bill 2014, already passed by the Lower House.
The Federal Minister for Law, Justice and Human Rights laid two ordinances – the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (Amendment) Ordinance 2014 promulgated to dissolve the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) and the Federal Judicial Academy (Amendment) Ordinance 2014, which was referred to the relevant committee. Seven Senators presented 10 reports of the standing committee.
The members proposed three amendments in rules 269, 61 and 184 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Senate, of which, the House approved two amendments and left the third amendment to the rule 184. One of the approved amendments in rule 61 binds the Prime Minister to attend the House once a week when the session is in progress. The amendment also binds the Prime Minister to attend the House proceedings during the Zero Hour.
The House adopted five of the twelve resolutions tabled during the session, three were deferred and the remaining four were not taken up. The members of PPPP and JUI-F tabled four resolutions each, followed by MQM two and two were multiparty. One of the adopted resolutions to condemn an attack on senior journalist Hamid Mir was also discussed in the House. Other resolutions sought to purge FATA of militancy, award of tender for Reko Dik Mines in a transparent manner, the provision of potable water in Islamabad Capital Territory and the disapproval of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (Amendment) Ordinance 2014.
Of the eleven Motions under Rule 218, the House debated four, deferred six and did not take up one.
The four motions debated were regarding the issues of health sector after the devolution of this subject to provinces, the performance of Pakistan International Airlines, an increase in in the universities of Islamabad and the foreign policy of Pakistan after elections in India and Afghanistan. The Chairman deferred a motion under Rule 60 – which allows half an hour time to discuss a matter of public importance requiring oral reply – during the eighth sitting.
Of the total eight sittings, Question Hour was held in five sittings and suspended in one sitting under Rule 263 to discuss a motion about the foreign policy of Pakistan after elections in India and Afghanistan while two days were Private Member’s day. The Senators submitted 178 questions, of which, 175 required both oral and written reply. One fourth of the questions received oral replies, on which, the members further asked 159 supplementary questions. Most of the questions (30) were directed to the Ministry of Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs and Statistics, followed by the Interior and Narcotics Control (29) and the Cabinet Division (24). Twenty-six other ministries/departments were asked questions.
The House took up all three Calling Attention Notices (CANs) – one each moved by the Senators of PPPP, ANP and MQM – drawing the attention of the House to the appointment of a junior officer in grade 20 in Benazir Income Support Program, the construction of a controversial link road in twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad and the Punjab government’s move to bar entry of wheat carrying vehicles to Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Minister of State gave response to all three CANs.
One member each of the PPPP, the MQM and the PkMAP tabled a privilege motion and all of them were referred to the Privilege Committee. The Senators also raised 79 points of orders.
The session began on April 14 and continued until April 23, 2014 holding a total of eight sittings with an average delay of 54 minutes, each sitting met for two hours on average. The members’ attendance remained low as on average 17 lawmakers were present in the House at the beginning of a sitting and 38 at the end. On average, two minority members attended each sitting.
The session was marred by ten walkouts which consumed 45 minutes of the total session time. The opposition staged five walkouts from the House against different issues. Two walkouts were against the Chair for not allowing taking up of amendments in rule 61 and the introduction of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (Amendment) Ordinance 2014 before taking it up in the Council of Common Interest (CCI).
The Chairman presided over the proceedings for 21% of the session time, the Deputy Chairman 75% and the remaining 4% was consumed by breaks. The Leader of the House attended the entire session whereas the Leader of the Opposition was present for 79% of the total session time.
The Parliamentary Leader of PkMAP attended the whole session while the Parliamentary Leaders of PPPP, PML-N and ANP were present in seven of the eight sittings.
The Parliamentary Leaders of PML-F and JUI-F attended three sittings each, followed by NP two and PML and MQM one sitting each. The BNP-A Parliamentary Leader did not attend a single sitting during the eighth session.
This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of FAFEN and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union. This Daily Factsheet is based on direct observation of the Senate proceedings conducted by PATTAN Development Organization; a member organization of FAFEN. Errors and omissions excepted.
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