NA sittings: Bilawal most vocal followed by PM Shehbaz in 4th parliamentary year

Then prime minister Imran Khan attended only one sitting of lower house, says PILDAT


Rizwan Shehzad   August 23, 2022
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (L) and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

Former prime minister Imran Khan attended only one sitting of the National Assembly in the fourth parliamentary year, while he held the office of the prime minister, the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) said on Monday.

In its analysis of the National Assembly based on key performance indicators (KPIs) of the fourth year as well as performance comparison of the 15th NA with the 14th NA tenure, PILDAT said that overall, the former prime minister Imran attended only 34 or 11% sittings of the 15th National Assembly.

The PILDAT report stated that Shehbaz Sharif, after taking oath as the Prime Minister on April 11, 2022, had attended 8 out of 43 or only 19% sittings of the National Assembly. It revealed that Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto remained the most vocal MNA followed by Shehbaz.

Being the opposition leader in the NA till April 10, the analysis said, Shehbaz attended 43% (19 out of 43) sittings of the assembly in its fourth year, which was an improvement from his 13% attendance during the third year of the 15th National Assembly.

MNA Raja Riaz Ahmad, who was declared as the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly on May 20, 2022, has attended 35% (13 out of 37) sittings of the National Assembly during the fourth year, it added.

As the 15th National Assembly concluded 4th Parliamentary year, PILDAT’s comparative analysis also looked at how the three years and 8 months period of the National Assembly under the premiership of Imran was different from the same period in the 14th National Assembly.

During PTI government tenure – 3 years and 8 months – in the 15th National Assembly, Bilawal was the most vocal MNA with a recorded talk time of 1 hour and 59 minutes, PILDAT noted, adding that Shehbaz Sharif, being PM and the then leader of the opposition, spoke for 1 hour and 57 minutes,

PML-N’s Khawaja Asif spoke for 1 hour and 27 minutes; Ahsan Iqbal spoke for 1 hour and 11 minutes while PPP’s Shazia Marri spoke for 51 minutes. “During this period in the house of 342 members,” it said, “174 (50.88% MNAs) did not speak for a single minute in the Assembly.”

Out of these 174 non-vocal MNAs, the report read, 149 were male and 25 were women MNAs, adding 84 of these MNAs (22% of the house) belonged to the PTI, 48 MNAs from the PML-N and 23 were affiliated to the PPPP.

Legislative business

PILDAT said that the legislative activity witnessed a decrease of 8% in the fourth year of the 15th National Assembly as it passed 55 laws, compared with 60 bills passed during the third year of the assembly.

However, in a comparison to the legislation between four years of 15th and 14th National Assembly, the 15th National Assembly has passed 155 bills in the 4-year period, while the 14th National Assembly had passed 125 bills in its first 4 years.

The 15th National Assembly has, therefore, passed 24% more laws in the same period compared with the previous assembly. During the fourth year of the assembly, 32 government bills were introduced compared to 31 bills introduced in the third year, while private members introduced only 46 bills, which was a decline from third year, when 74 bills were introduced.

Ordinances

Excessive reliance on issuing ordinances had been witnessed during the four years of the 15th National Assembly as 74 ordinances were laid in the assembly. A slight decrease was seen in the fourth year compared with the third year, as 16 ordinances were laid in the assembly in the fourth year compared with 20 during the third year – a decrease of about 20%.

Pending agenda

The 15th National Assembly could not dispose of nearly 41% of planned agenda items in 87 sittings, which was a bulk of the agenda by any standard. On average, 58.87% agenda items were left over in the sittings during fourth year of the assembly.

NA attendance

The 15th National Assembly had only met for 87 days in the fourth parliamentary year. The assembly had met for 10% more days than it was convened during its third year, which were 79 sittings.

On average, however, the 15th National Assembly met for 88 working days per year in its first 4 years in comparison with an average of 99 working days per year in the previous (14th) National Assembly. This is an 11% decrease in the performance of the 15th assembly compared to the 14th assembly.

Regarding the working hours in its fourth year, the 15th assembly met for 178 hours and 1 minute. This meant that the working hours of the assembly declined by 18% from the third year when it had convened for a total of 217 hours and 10 minutes.

The average working hours of the 15th National Assembly in four years were 258 hours and 15 minutes. Instead of improvement in the performance and productivity, the 15th National Assembly worked for 12% fewer working hours, compared to the previous 14th National Assembly.

MNAs’ attendance

During the fourth year, the average attendance of MNAs was recorded at 67% until April 9, 2022. After the PTI’s tenure, the average attendance of MNAs during 4th year dropped to 51%, which was 14 percentage points lower than the attendance of MNAs during the third year, which was 65%.

Average attendance of the MNAs in the first four years of the 15th National Assembly stood at 63%, an improvement of only 3 percentage points over 60% average attendance of MNAs per year during the first 4 years of the previous 14th National Assembly.

Even after the resignations of the PTI MNAs, the attendance was calculated on the basis of full house, ie, 342 MNAs as their resignations had not been accepted officially.

Quorum

During the fourth year of the 15th National Assembly, quorum was pointed out 34 times in 28 (32.18%) sittings, out of 87 sittings. Out of these 28 sittings, in which quorum was pointed out, 23 (26.44%) sittings were adjourned, even though on average 173 MNAs were recorded as present in the fourth year.

Budget session

The fourth year of the 15th National Assembly has seen just 14 days for the annual budget session and the passage of the Finance bill 2022-23, two days less than what was spent during the third year. The 15th National Assembly had seen a sharp decrease (56%) of working hours from 102 hours and 27 minutes to 45 hours and 7 minutes in the total time spent during the budget session during the fourth year.

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