ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Monday passed three bills presented by the government, but only after the opposition lent it a helping hand, ignoring the lack of quorum.
At the outset of the assembly proceedings, Shireen Mazari of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) pointed out the lack of quorum, which led to a headcount and subsequent suspension of the proceedings for nearly half an hour.
After the proceedings resumed, the quorum was found to be complete after which the opposition opted to help the government pass three bills. There were 40 lawmakers at the start of the session and when the session was adjourned the figure had risen to 80, mostly belonging to the opposition.
The House passed two government bills, which were part of the regular agenda, including the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2017 and the National University of Technology Bill, 2017.
The House also passed the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (Amendment) Bill, 2017 – part of the supplementary agenda.
The government had to compromise on Clause 40 of the bill on electric power, aimed at facilitating the government to impose surcharges on consumers to develop various uplift projects.
Opposition lawmakers criticised the government for trying to levy surcharges on consumers.
PTI’s Mazari asked the government to drop the clause otherwise her party would vote against it.
Syed Naveed Qamar of the Pakistan Peoples Party-Parliamentarian (PPP-P) remarked that if the government wanted to levy taxes, it should do so in the budget. He said as a matter of routine, surcharges regularly became part of regular tariff.
Federal Minister for Power Sardar Awais Laghari agreed with the viewpoint of the opposition and the chair rejected the clause.
The main objective of the bill is to address overbilling.
The Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2017, passed by the assembly, seeks allocation of share from profit or actual income generated by investment of endowment grant to the Islamabad High Court for infrastructure development of district courts in the federal capital.
The National University of Technology Bill, 2017, okayed by the assembly, seeks to establish the National University of Technology (NUTECH).
Through a calling-attention notice, PPP-P lawmakers highlighted the matter of 36% or 5.9 MAF shortage of water as announced by the technical committee of the Indus River System Authority (IRSA).
The government’s response failed to satisfy the lawmakers after which Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq asked for a meeting on Wednesday of lawmakers concerned and official of the Ministry of Water Resources.
The National Assembly’s session was later adjourned till 4pm on Tuesday.
Bill on disqualification:
A bill tabled by the opposition to bar a disqualified person from heading a political party will be presented in the House on Tuesday (today), which is private members’ day.
Clause 203 of the Election Act, 2017 has already been passed by the Senate which bars a disqualified person from heading a political party.
The same bill would be introduced in the lower house for debate and voting.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah summoned a meeting of the PPP-P parliamentary party in the Parliament House at 3pm on Tuesday (today) to devise a strategy for striking down the clause in the Election Act, 2017, effectively barring a disqualified person from heading a political party.