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Punjab Assembly: MP’s disinterest persists while legislation gains pace

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Published: June 10, 2016 02:38 pm


ISLAMABAD, June 10, 2016: The Punjab Assembly remained more productive during its third year of current term as compared to preceding years in terms of passing legislative pieces but the issues of order and participation stubbornly persisted.

The third parliamentary year of the Punjab Assembly, spanning over 75 sittings, was clubbed into seven sessions (15th to 21st), and held between June 10, 2015 and May 26, 2016.

The Assembly passed 46 government bills in this period while it had passed 31 and 37 bills during first and second parliamentary years respectively. The number of sittings of the Assembly increased from 62 in the second year to 75 in the third but punctuality issues persisted, as every sitting continued to start, on an average, 77 minutes behind the schedule.  The absence of Leader of the House persisted during third year as well like preceding years.

On the output of the Assembly, the number of bills passed during third year surpassed the number of bills cumulatively passed during first two years. All the bills passed were moved by treasury and were apparently supplied to executive on its demand as members’ zero individual interest in legislation continued to exist. Only one private member bill was introduced during the entire year in a house of 368. On the order and institutionalization, misuse of points of order continued to be witnessed. Despite the provision of Zero Hour in the Rules of Procedure, the lawmakers kept on using Points of Order to raise the unrelated issues.

If the number of committee reports can be a measure of standing committees’ performance, it registered some improvement as 48 reports were presented before the House. Another positive development was a number of amendments in the Rules of Procedure which made provisions for Annual Calendar of the Assembly, Zero Hour and time-bound election of the standing committees.

The average attendance remained as low as 46% during the year with the maximum of 68% members present in one sitting while 252 lawmakers took part in the proceedings by submitting agenda items, speaking on floor of the House or by doing both.  The participation of various parliamentary parties was proportionate to their respective strength in the House. The active lawmakers included 206 members of PML-N, 26 of PTI, six each of PPPP and PML, and two of PML-Z. Moreover, four independents and sole members of PNML and JI also participated in the proceedings.

During the reporting period, 116 lawmakers did not take part in the parliamentary business throughout the year. These lawmakers belonged to seven parliamentary parties and their majority (106) was from ruling party PML-N. Similarly, five lawmakers of PTI, three of PML, two of PPPP and one each of PML-Z and BNA-P ANP and one independent member remained inactive.

The female lawmakers outperformed their male colleagues in this area. Nearly three quarters of females (56 out of total 76) took part in the proceedings against 67% male parliamentarians participating in the business. Furthermore, seven out of eight minority members also contributed to the proceedings.

The Assembly held discussions on incidents of terrorism that claimed several lives, including that of Provincial Home Minister, trials of Jamat-e-Islami leadership in Bangladesh, problems of agriculture sector, Orange Line Metro project and measures of good governance in the province.

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