Only 86 MNAs to attend budget session amid coronavirus pandemic

Govt, opposition agree on formula for participation of lawmakers from each party

Saqib Virk June 08, 2020
46 lawmakers from the ruling PTI and its allies will attend the upcoming budget session while the rest of 40 will be from opposition parties. PHOTO: APP/FILE


The ruling and opposition parties in the lower house have agreed on a formula to hold the budget session of the National Assembly through participation of only 86 lawmakers – the minimum number required to maintain NA quorum – in order to stop the spread of contagious coronavirus disease.

Under rule 5 of the National Assembly, if at any time during a sitting, the attention of the NA speaker is drawn to the fact that less 'than one-fourth’ of the total membership of the assembly is present, the speaker has to suspend the business.

The National Assembly consists of a total of 342 members of which 272 are directly elected through general election. 70 MNAs are indirectly elected on reserved seats for women and religious minorities. One-fourth of 342 members is around 86.

According to the formula, 46 lawmakers from the ruling PTI and its allies will attend the upcoming budget session while the rest of 40 lawmakers will be from opposition parties.

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Of the 46 legislators of the ruling alliance, 39 will belong to the PTI. Two lawmakers from the MQM and one lawmaker each from PML-Q, BNP, AML, JWP and BAP will participate in the session.

The opposition party members to attend the budget session will comprise 21 lawmakers from the PML-N, 14 from the PPP, 4 from the MMA and 1 from the ANP.

During the parliamentary session, all standard operating procedures (SOPs) with regard to prevention of the Covid-19 pandemic, including social distancing norm will also be adopted.

This was decided on Monday in a meeting of the parliamentary leaders in the National Assembly chaired by Speaker Asad Qaiser at the Parliament House.

While initiating the discussion, the speaker said 13 members of the house – including him – have tested positive for Covid-19 besides a significant number of staff members.

He urged all the members to strictly follow the SoPs, adding that he could feel the agony and pain through which the coronavirus patients and their families undergo.

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There was a general consensus that the session is being held under special circumstances that warrant extraordinary decisions in order to minimise risks.

The meeting agreed that no legislative or non-legislative agenda will be taken up during the session and members will get maximum opportunity to take part in general discussion on budget and its passage.

It was agreed that the sittings of the assembly would stretch up to three hours with presence of 25% of the total membership of assembly during a particular sitting.

The chief whips of the parliamentary parties were asked to submit names of their members interested in taking part in the discussion beforehand to the National Assembly Secretariat.

The meeting also decided to hold discussion on issues of the PIA air crash, Pakistan Steel Mills, locust attack, sugar crisis and atrocities of Indian forces in occupied Kashmir during the pre-budget sittings.

Qasim Khan Suri, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pervez Khattak, Muhammad Ali Khan, Babar Awan; Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal, Ayaz Sadiq; Raja Pervaz Ashraf, Naveed Qamar, Asad Mehmood, Abdul Wasay, Khalid Hussain Magsi attended the meeting.



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