Islamabad: The lawmakers spent 33% time of the 105th session of the Senate debating the Finance Bill 2014 and finalized 133 recommendations while 53% of the Senators did not participate in the proceedings, says the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN).
The senators of PPPP, ANP, JUI-F, PML-N, MQM, PkMAP, and PML-F spoke on the money bill for nearly six hours. The House recommended amendments to the tax laws, fund allocation for repair of various roads, regularization of security companies, provision of subsidies to agriculture sector along with proposing measures to conserve energy to extend electricity supply to several parts of the country devoid of this basic amenity.
The Senate’s recommendations touch upon issues relevant to governance and service delivery. Surprisingly, 56 senators – PPPP (21), PML-N (9), ANP (5), four each from MQM and JUI-F, BNP-A (2), PML (1) and 10 independents – remained completely silent during the proceedings of the budget session as they neither submit any agenda nor took part in the debate, or both.
In addition to the introduction and debating the Finance Bill, the House also passed five others bills which were originated in the National Assembly. The bills include the Anti-terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2014, the Anti-Terrorism (Second Amendment) Bill 2014, the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils (Amendment) Bill 2014, the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill 2014 and the Service Tribunals (Amendment) Bill 2014.
A total of seven reports were tabled during the session, of which, five were standing committees’ reports on the five bills. Two reports were related to recommendations on the Finance Bill 2014 and the annual report of the Council of Common Interests.
The session began on June 3 comprising nine sittings and ended on June 16, lasting 16 hours and 52 minutes. The Leader of the House was present throughout the session while the Leader of the Opposition was present in seven sittings.
The Senate Chairman attended four sittings and presided over 32% of the session time, while the Deputy Speaker was present in seven sittings and presided over 62% of the session time. The Prime Minister attended two sittings of the budget session and came to the Upper House for the first time since taking oath in June 2013.
On average, 17 members were present at the start and 31 at the end of each sitting while three minority members were present in each sitting on average. The parliamentary leader of PkMAP was present in all nine sittings, following PML-F (7), ANP (5), NP (4), JUI-F (1) while those of PML, BNP-A, and MQM remained absent throughout the session.
The senators raised three questions of privilege during the session, all against the alleged misbehaviour of various government officials. Two of these were moved by the ANP members and one by a PPPP member. All three questions were sent to the Privilege Committee.
More than 38% of the session time was consumed by the 97 Points of Order (POs) by 42 senators. Most of the POs were related to issues of democracy and political development, employment, energy sector reforms, governance, law & order situation (Karachi Airport Attack and military operation in North Waziristan), murder of a minority MPA in Quetta, prayers and tributes, rules of business and women rights.
The session was marked by four walkouts, of which, two were staged by the entire opposition over police baton charge on protesting clerks/teachers in Islamabad, the receipt of extortion letters by schools in Peshawar, absence of ministers from the Senate and delay in briefing on terrorist attacks in Karachi and Taftan. The walkouts lasted 124 minutes.
In addition, the PML-N parliamentary leader walked out over the behaviour of the Deputy Chairman. The MQM members also walked out for not being allowed to speak on the budget.
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