PM 'gave scant regard' to National Assembly sittings

Premier Shehbaz were present in only three budget sessions, says Pildat report

Our Correspondent July 06, 2022
Shehbaz Sharif addressing a session in National Assembly in Islamabad on January 10, 2022. PHOTO: TWITTER/ @NAofPakistan


Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif attended only three – 17.65% – out of 17 sittings of the federal budget in the National Assembly on June 10, 21 and 28, whereas Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Raja Riaz Ahmad was present in seven – 41.18% – sittings.

On average, 122 or 35.67% of MNAs marked their attendance during the 43rd session.

According to a report released by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat), the 43rd or the budget session of the 15th National Assembly began June 6 and was prorogued after 24 days on June 29, 2022. The session spanned 24 days and met for 17 sittings.

The NA met for 52 hours and 49 minutes out of which the actual budget sittings spread over 45 hours and 7 minutes compared to 102 hours and 27 minutes in last year’s budget session and to the average of 48 hours for the budget sessions during the past 21 years.

The average sitting time was 3 hours and 6 minutes while the average delay in starting a sitting was recorded at 44 minutes per sitting.

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The report revealed that the 43rd session disposed of almost 96% agenda. On average, only 4.33% of agenda items were left over in 17 sittings. In 15 out of 17 sittings, 100% of agenda items were disposed of while the maximum agenda items left over were 67.35% on June 8 sitting.

Meanwhile, the quorum was pointed out only in one out of seventeen sittings which resulted in adjournment of the sitting. On average, 122 (35.67%) MNAs marked attendance during the session.

The report observed that Jamat-e-Islami’s Moulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali was the most vocal lawmaker during the 43rd session with a recorded talk time of 2 hours and 30 minutes.

It further noted that the Finance Bill, 2022 was the only government bill introduced during the session on June 10 and was passed on June 29. Out of 342 members house, only 87 or 25.43% of MNAs took part in the federal budget discussion in which 61 (18%) were male and 26 (8%) were female and spoke only for 29 hours and 46 minutes.

Likewise, 255 (75%) MNAs did not participate in the budget discussion, for which the main reason was the resignations of PTI MNAs.

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“17 bills were passed by the National Assembly during the 43rd session including the Finance Bill, 2022. No Government bill was introduced while 6 Private Members bills were introduced.

No Ordinance was laid while 1 Ordinance, the General Statistics (Re-Organization) (Amendment) Ordinance, 2022, was extended for further 120 days during the session on Tuesday, June 21,” the report says.

Required changes

In its report, the Pildat strongly advocated that changes were required to strengthen the effective use of the most crucial powers of the parliament for the federal budget process, suggesting an amendment in Article 84 of the Constitution which currently allows the government to authorize supplementary grants without seeking prior assembly’s approval.

“Pildat also advocated to amend the Public Finance Management Act 2019 to obligate the Federal Government to share Budget Strategy Paper with Standing Committees of the National Assembly and Senate on Finance before its final approval by the Federal Cabinet and also recommended to increase the time to debate/scrutinize budget in the Standing Committees and the National Assembly,” the report concluded.


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