ISLAMABAD, June 30, 2013: More than 70% of the legislators took part in the budget debate in the Sindh Assembly as quorum was maintained throughout the nine sittings of the session, says the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) in its preliminary report.
The Sindh Assembly’s budget session was prorogued on June 29.
A total of 117 MPAs (72% membership) took part in the budget debate that lasted 26 hours and 38 minutes – 61% of the total session time (43 hours and 24 minutes).
Overall 91 male and 26 female lawmakers shared their views on the finance bill. More PPPP members, 48 male and 14 female, debated the budget for 830 minutes, followed by MQM lawmakers, 29 male and eight female, for 569 minutes.
Out of the 1024 cut motions moved the opposition against the government’s 59 grants for demands for the fiscal year 2013-14, seven were withdrawn and the rest of the cut motions were rejected.
The session lasting nine sittings from June 17 to June 29, 2013 met for 43 hours and 24 minutes. Each sitting on average met four hours and 49 minutes. All sittings on average started 85 minutes behind schedule. The house took three breaks lasting four hours and 31 minutes -10% of the proceedings.
The Chief Minister was present in eight sittings for 37% of the session time while his counterpart, the Leader of the Opposition, attended 42% (seven sittings) of the proceedings. The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker presided over 78% and 11% of the session respectively.
To gauge MPAs attendance, FAFEN observer conducts a headcount in the beginning, the end and at the time of maximum attendance during a sitting. On average 75 members each were present at the start and the end of nine sittings. Similarly on average a maximum of 102 MPAs were present at one point during all the sittings. On a positive note the quorum – minimum 41 members– was maintained throughout the session.
The house adopted four resolutions. Two of the resolutions condemned the terrorist attacks in Karachi – the first killing an MQM legislator and his son and the other on the convoy of a Sindh High Court judge which claimed seven lives. The house also approved a resolution to pay tribute to late Prime Minister on her 60th birthday and another to urge the federal government to withdraw an amendment about sales tax on services.
On seven points of order in the last two sitting of the session, legislators spoke for 68 minutes.
The session’s proceedings were interrupted four times by protests consuming two hours – 5% of the session time. In the last sitting MQM, PMLN, PMLF and PTI members staged a joint walkout over the taxes imposed in the finance bill.
The MQM legislators walked out over the target killings of its workers and later when the Speaker disallowed one of them from speaking on a point of order. Similarly, PMLF and PMLN members staged a joint walkout when a PMLF lawmaker did not get permission to speak.
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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