The Punjab government on Wednesday passed the Bank of Punjab Amendment Bill 2011 seeking to increase the government’s holding in the bank to 80 per cent. Previously, the Punjab government held a 51 per cent share while the rest were listed on the stock exchange.
The opposition moved amendments to both clauses of the bill, but they were rejected by the treasury. Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said that the BoP, according to a State Bank report, needed an injection of Rs10 billion and that was why the government wanted to raise its investment. The bill authorises the government to buy and hold up to 80 per cent of the shares in the bank, while the rest will be available for public trade.
The assembly passed two other bills on Wednesday, the Punjab Environmental Protection Amendment Bill 2011 and the Punjab Local Government Second Amendment Bill. The treasury also introduced the Punjab Zakat and Ushr Bill 2012, the Government Sadiq College Women University Bahawalpur Bill 2012, the Government College Women University Faisalabad Bill 2012 and the Government College Women University Sialkot Bill 2012.
The proceedings ran smoothly for the treasury, as there were few opposition members present in the chambers. After question hour, the opposition pointed out the quorum and the assembly went on a one-hour break. Ushers were rushed to the MPAs’ hostel and calls were made to legislators and the treasury was able to complete its numbers after an hour.
During question hour, Education Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman fielded questions for the Education Department and assured the house that 70 per cent of private schools would be teaching the same syllabus as public schools within the next five years. He admitted that schools were also on the hit list of terrorists and the staff of all the schools had been directed to adopt security measures. He said that all the schools in the province have been fitted with CCTV cameras and protective barricades. The question was submitted by a member on November 10, 2009, and the reply received on March 5, 2012.
At the completion of the official agenda, Speaker Rana Iqbal adjourned the house till 10am on Thursday.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2012.