Economic fallout of crisis can’t be ignored: Sanjrani

Senate chairman tasks committee to come up with a report on convening session

​ Our Correspondent April 16, 2020
Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani PHOTO: ONLINE

ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani on Wednesday said the economic fallout of the crisis caused by the novel coronavirus cannot be ignored and parliament has to take a lead with special reference to the upcoming budget.

“Parliament has to play a more robust role in the current crisis as there is a need for a national response to overcome the pandemic,” he said while presiding over the Senate House Business Advisory Committee meeting through a video link.

The committee deliberated on the emerging scenario in the wake of the COVID-19 and discussed in detail the hardships being faced in transacting the legislative business.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan apprised the meeting that federal and provincial governments have taken a unanimous decision to extend the lockdown until April 30.

“There is a need to consider an overall situation with regard to the lockdown, precautionary protocols and the risk factors involved before making any decision,” he said.

Parliamentary leaders, participating in the discussion also floated various proposals for convening senate sessions and committee meetings.

“Important legislation is pending,” the chairman said. However, he said that decision to convene the Senate session requires detailed examination of the existing rules and procedures. He referred the matter to the Senate Committee on Rules of Procedure and Privileges for a report, saying that any decision to convene the session would be taken in accordance with the recommendations of the panel.

It was the first session of the House Business Advisory Committee, which was held through a video link. The initiative was proposed by the Senate chairman a couple of days ago.

Leader of the House in the Senate Shibli Faraz, Mushahidullah Khan, Sitara Ayaz, Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif, Sajjad Hussain Turi, Anwarul Haq Kakar, Aurangzeb Khan Aurakzai, Adviser to PM Babar Awan, Federal Minister for Narcotic Control Azam Swati and Senate Secretary Dr Akhtar Nazir were present in the committee room during the meeting. While Senate Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq, Sherry Rehman, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Usman Khan Kakar, Dr Jahanzeb Jamaldini, Sirajul Haq, participated through a video link.

Meanwhile, the PPP leader called for going forward with making the rules and arrangements for an online session as well as the regular session of standing committees.

In a statement, she said that parliament’s urgent role of scrutinising government, authorising spending, making laws, and providing leadership during difficult times must be upheld.

“While Pakistan faces a risk of increased cases and casualties, the federal government’s decision-making, the effectiveness of lockdowns as well as its health and economic policies remain questionable. The need for a consensus on effectively managing this state of emergency is greater than ever,” said Sherry.

She added that the senate while ensuring no province is left behind in the decision-making process, needs to advocate for unity to cope with the pandemic in the best interest of the public.