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Punjab Assembly: 26% lawmakers take part in budget deliberations

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Published: July 1, 2016 11:20 am

Punjab Assembly 101

ISLAMABAD, July 1, 2016: The Punjab Assembly passed the Annual Budget 2016-17 and the Supplementary Budget 2015-16 during 22nd session which continued from June 13 to June 29, 2016. It is ninth consecutive budget of the Punjab presented by PML-N which is ruling the province since 2008 and was reelected to the government in 2013.

  • Chief Minister attends three out of eleven sittings of budget session
  • The Assembly amends local government law, pays tribute to Sabri

The session began with the presentation of the Annual and Supplementary Budgets on June 13, 2016. After a two-day gap following the budget speech, the House commenced discussion on the budget which continued for four sittings and was concluded by the Finance Minister on June 22. The House took next two days to approve 43 Demands for Grants which preceded the passage of the Punjab Finance Bill 2016 on June 27. The opposition lawmakers moved six Cut Motions against the budget allocated for Police, Health Services, Education, Agriculture, Development and Miscellaneous Departments; however, all were rejected by a majority vote. The remaining Demands for Grants were approved by the House under Rule 144 (4) of the Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, 1997. According to the said Rule, all questions outstanding on last of the days allotted for voting on Demands for Grants are put before the House for disposal. The last two sittings of the session were consumed by discussion and voting on Supplementary Budget 2015-16. The opposition also moved three Cut Motions on Supplementary Demands for Grants.

As many as 98 out of 367 sitting lawmakers (26%) took part in deliberations on the budget during the session while the remaining 269 lawmakers did not participate in any of the discussions. The lawmakers spent 23 hours and 56 minutes (70% of session’s duration) on general discussion and discussions on Demands for Grants, Finance Bill and Supplementary Budget. Among 98 participating members, 27 (28%) were female lawmakers who consumed a quarter of the time (six hours) spent on discussions. The main opposition party PTI’s 15 lawmakers consumed the largest portion of the discussions (ten hours and two minutes) followed by  ruling party PML-N whose 71 lawmakers took ten hours. Five lawmakers each of PPPP and PML spoke for 102 minutes and 87 minutes respectively while one lawmaker each of JI and PML-Z also consumed 36 minutes and nine minutes respectively. Nearly 77% of PML-N lawmakers and half of the PTI members abstained from taking part in the budget discussions.

Apart from the annual and supplementary budget statements, the Finance Minister also laid the Schedule of Authorized Expenditure for the year 2016-2017, the Supplementary Schedule of Authorized Expenditure for the year 2015-2016 and the notifications relating to the amendments in the Second Schedule of the Punjab Sales Tax on Services Act 2012 and the Rules made under the Act ibid.

The House also took up legislative and non-legislative business during the session besides the budget process which continued for entire session while one sitting (fourth) was reserved to pay respect to late lawmaker Muhammad Siddique Khan of PTI who died of cardiac arrest on June 19, 2016. Eleven lawmakers – PML-N (seven), PTI (three) and PML (one) – offered their tribute to the deceased colleague consuming 22 minutes of the proceedings. Besides the Punjab Finance Bill 2016, the House also passed the Punjab Local Government (Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2016 while three bills – the Punjab Civil Courts (Amendment) Ordinance 2016, the Punjab Blood Transfusion Safety Bill, 2016, the Punjab Revenue Authority (Second Amendment) Bill, 2016 – were introduced. The amendment in the local government law empowers a rural Union Council with urban characteristics to levy property tax within its areas in addition to other urban local governments. The discussion on this amendment bill consumed 40 minutes while six members participated in it. The House suspended the requirement of mandatory three days’ notice period under Rule 115 of the Rules of Procedure to take up and adopt a unanimous resolution condemning the killing of renowned Qawaal Amjad Fareed Sabri in Karachi.

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