PILDAT releases Parliament Update for 43rd (Budget) Session of National Assembly and 318th Session of the Senate

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43rd (Budget) Session of National Assembly

Highlights:

  1. 43rd (Budget) Session met for 17 sittings
  2. The House was convened for 52 hours and 49 minutes with average sitting time of 3 hours and 6 minutes
  3. Longest sitting lasted 5 hours and 50 minutes and shortest sitting was 1 hour and 20 minutes
  4. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif attended only 3 out of 17 sittings
  5. One (1) sitting adjourned due to lack of quorum
  6. Average attendance of MNAs recorded as 35.67%

Working Hours

The 43rd or the Budget Session of the 15th National Assembly began on Monday, June 6 and was prorogued after 24 days on Wednesday, June 29, 2022. The session spanning 24 days met for 17 sittings which were held on June 6, June 8, June 9, June 10, June 13, June 14, June 15, June 16, June 17, June 20, June 21, June 22, June 23, June 24, June 27, June 28 and June 29.

The National Assembly 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. Average sitting time was 3 hours and 6 minutes. The average delay in starting a sitting was recorded at 44 minutes per sitting. The longest sitting of the session was held on Wednesday, June 29 and lasted 5 hours and 50 minutes while the shortest sitting was held on Friday, June 10 which lasted only 1 hour and 20 minutes. The schedule of the sittings during the session is given in Appendix A.

Agenda Items Left Over

The 43rd session disposed of almost 96% agenda. On average, only 4.33% agenda items were left over in 17 sittings. In 15 out of 17 sittings, 100% agenda items were disposed of while maximum agenda items left over were 67.35% on June 8. Details of Agenda Items Left Over are given in Appendix B.

Quorum

Quorum was pointed out only in one (1) out of 17 sittings which resulted in adjournment of the sitting, even though 137 MNA were recorded as present on June 8 while only 86 MNAs’ attendance forms the quorum. On average 122 (35.67%) MNAs marked attendance during the session.

Attendance

Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, MNA, Prime Minister of Pakistan, attended only 3 (17.65%) out of 17 sittings on June 10, 21 and 28 while Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Raja Riaz Ahmad, MNA attended 7 (41.18%) sittings held on June 8, June 10, June 13, June 21, June 22, June 27 and June 28. On average, 122 or 35.67% MNAs marked their attendance during the 43rd session.

Top 5 Vocal MNAs

Moulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali, MNA (NA-1 Chitral-I, KP, MMAP) was the most vocal MNA during the 43rd session with a recorded talk time of 2 hours and 30 minutes. Dr. Fehmida Mirza, MNA, (NA-230 Badin-II, Sindh, GDA) spoke for 1 hour and 5 minutes during the session, followed by Mr. Salahuddin, MNA (NA-227 Hyderabad-III, Sindh, MQMP) who spoke for 1 hour and 1 minute during the session. Mr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, MNA (Reserved Seats for Non-Muslim, Sindh, PTI) spoke for 57 minutes and Dr. Muhammad Afzal Khan Dhandla, MNA (NA-98 Bhakkar-II, Punjab, PTI) spoke for 56 minutes.

Legislation

The Finance Bill, 2022 was the only government bill introduced during the session on June 10 and was passed on June 29. Out of 17 sittings held during 43rd session, the bill was discussed in 14 sittings and the discussion spread over 45 hours and 7 minutes in these actual budget sittings. Out of 342 members house, only 87 or 25.43% MNAs took part in federal budget discussion in which 61 (18%) were male and 26 (8%) were female and spoke only for 29 hours and 46 minutes. 255 (75%) MNAs did not participate in the budget discussion, for which the main reason could be resignations of PTI MNAs. The remaining MNAs of PTI spoke for 5 hours and 16 minutes (18%) during the budget session. Last year, 246 or 71.92% MNAs participated in the budget discussion and to the average of 190 or 55.55% for the budget sessions during the past 4 years.

17 bills were passed by the National Assembly during 43rd session including the Finance Bill, 2022.

PILDAT has strong advocated that changes are required to strengthen effective use of the most crucial powers of the Parliament for federal budget process. These changes are as follows:

  1. Amend Article 84 of the Constitution which currently allows government to authorize supplementary grants without seeking prior Assembly approval
  2. 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 the Senate on Finance before its final approval by the Federal Cabinet
  3. Amend Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly to give powers to standing committees to review budget after its presentation in the Assembly
  4. Amend the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly to obligate the Federal Government to present a Quarterly Report on the execution of the budget passed by the Assembly
  5. Increase the time to debate/scrutinize budget in the Standing Committees & the National Assembly

The list of the Bills passed during the session is given in Appendix C.

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. It was enacted on February 23, 2022. Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) was working as an attached department of Ministry of Finance, Economic Affairs, and Privatization & Statistics at the time of promulgation of the Act, 2011. In pursuance of Cabinet decision on April 4, 2019, the PBS was transferred as an attached department of Ministry of Planning, Development & Special Initiatives on abolition of Statistics Division.

 

Senate met for only 17 days in a 32-day long session

Highlights:

  1. 5 out of 17 sittings adjourned due to lack of quorum (which means less than 25% members present) though on average 61 or 61% Senators marked attendance in the session
  2. Senate met for 49 hours and 1 minute in 17 Sittings
  3. Average time of Senate Sitting recorded at 2 hours and 53 minutes; Longest sitting was 6 hours and 41 minutes and shortest sitting was 17 minutes
  4. Sittings started with an average delay of 7 minutes per sitting
  5. Two (2) Ordinances were laid while no Ordinance was extended during 318th session
  6. Nine (9) Bills were passed by the Senate in 318th Session

Working Hours

Even though the 318th session of the Senate started on May 23 and was prorogued a month later on June 24, it only met for 17 sittings or 53% of the total session time.

Since a break of two days is also counted towards the meeting days, during the 318th session, the Senate met for a day or two and then went on a break for 2 days. In general, the Senate almost met for 3 days in a week while all 7 days of the week were counted towards its tally of meeting days. In the 32-day long session, the Senate sittings were held only on May 23, May 24, May 25, May 27, May 30, June 2, June 3, June 6, June 9, June 10, June 13, June 15, June 16, June 17, June 20, June 21 and June 23. The schedule of the sittings during the session is given in Appendix D.

The Session met for 49 hours and 1 minute with an average time of 2 hours and 53 minutes per sitting. The shortest sitting was held on Friday, June 10 when the whole agenda was disposed of and the House was adjourned after meeting for only 17 minutes. The longest sitting of the Senate was held on Tuesday, June 21 when the House was adjourned after meeting for 6 hours and 41 minutes.

The average delay in starting a sitting was 7 minutes during the session.

Agenda Items Left Over

On average 33.07% agenda items were left over during the session and the Senate could dispose of 66.93% of its agenda items in 17 sittings. Maximum agenda items disposed of during a sitting were 100% on June 10, which was also the shortest sitting of the session for only 17 minutes and the orders of the day essentially included presentation of reports by various Senate Committees and laying of the Finance Bill 2022 in the Senate. Maximum agenda items left over were 88.89% on May 25 and June 13. Details of the Agenda Items Left Over are in Appendix E.

Quorum

Lack of quorum was pointed out in eight (8) or 47.06% out of 17 sittings during the session while five (5) or 29.41% sittings were adjourned due to lack of quorum. This was despite the fact that on average 61 (61%) Senators marked attendance in the session.

On May 30, when the quorum was pointed out, the count was made but the House was not found in order. The proceedings were, therefore, adjourned. It must be noted that 57 Senators had marked their attendance on May 30. The sitting held on June 2 was also adjourned due to lack of quorum whereas 61 Senators had recorded their presence. Similarly the sitting held on June 9 was adjourned due to lack of quorum where 80 Senators were recorded as present. The fourth sitting which was adjourned due to lack of quorum was held on June 16 where 64 Senators had marked their attendance. On June 20, quorum was pointed out and the house was adjourned due to lack of quorum though 62 Senators were recorded as present.

Attendance

Senator Dr. Shahzad Waseem, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, (Punjab, PTI) attended 16 out of 17 or 94.12% sittings during the session. He was followed by Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar, Leader of the House, (Punjab, PML-N) who attended 14 out of 17 or 82.35% sittings. On average, 61 or 61% Senators were recorded to have attended the 318th session.

Most Vocal Senators

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Dr. Shahzad Waseem (Punjab, PTI), was the most vocal Senator during 318th session with a recorded talk time of 2 hours and 39 minutes. Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar, Leader of the House, (Punjab, PML-N), spoke for 2 hours and 18 minutes. He was followed by Senator Mushtaq Ahmed (KP, JIP) who spoke for 2 hours and 2 minutes during the session. Senator Syed Shibli Faraz (KP, PTI) spoke for 1 hour and 20 minutes while Senator Danesh Kumar (Balochistan, BAP) spoke for 1 hour and 17 minutes.

Legislation

During 318th session, the Senate passed 9 bills including the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and the National Accountability (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2022. Despite protest by the opposition benches, both the bills were passed without being referred to relevant standing committees. [1]

The other bills passed included the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment )Bill, 2022, the Registration (Amendment) Bill, 2022, the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill 2022 (Omission of section 325 of PPC and subsequent amendment in Schedule II of CRC.PC.), the International Institute of Science, Arts and Technology Bill, 2022, the Smart Institute of Sciences and Technology Bill, 2022, the National Rahmatul-Lil-Aalameen Wa Khatamun Nabiyyin Authority Bill, 2022 and the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation (Amendment) Bill, 2022.

No government bill was introduced during the session while 23 Private Members bills were introduced.

The Senate also gave its recommendations on the Finance Bill 2022 amidst protest from the opposition that stated that this budget would further fuel already high inflation in Pakistan.

No Ordinance was extended during the session while two (2) ordinances were laid on May 24. These included the Elections (Amendment) Ordinance, 2022 (Ordinance No. I of 2022) which was promulgated on February 21, 2022 by the outgoing PTI government and removed the bar on elected legislators including member holding any other office under the Constitution or any other law from visiting or addressing public meetings in constituencies during election campaign. However, it was laid in the National Assembly on May 23, 2022 by Mr. Murtaza Javed Abbasi, MNA and Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, supporting the amendment in the Elections Act, 2017 based on ‘persistent demand of elected representatives as well as overwhelming number of voters.’

Another ordinance laid was the General Statistics (Re-Organization) (Amendment) Ordinance, 2022. (Ordinance No. III of 2022).

References

[1] Iftikhar A. Khan, “NAB, election reforms passed by Senate amid PTI protestations,”Dawn online, May 28, 2022, accessed July 4, 2022. https://www.dawn.com/news/1691866/nab-election-reforms-passed-by-senate-amid-pti-protestations.