Low Member Attendance in Ongoing Budget Session


Islamabad: The National Assembly met for four hours and 26 minutes during the 5th sitting of the ongoing budget session. The sitting witnessed low attendance of Members, with only 12% Members present at the outset of the sitting and 8% present when the sitting was adjourned.

The Members continued to debate on the budgetary proposals, and 63% of the fifth sitting time was taken up by the debate. Eleven Members – three each of the PPPP and PMLN, two each of the PMLQ and MQM, and one of the JUI – spoke on the budgetary proposals for two hours and 48 minutes.

The following are some key observations of the parliamentary business:

Members’ participation in House proceedings

The National Assembly met for four hours and 26 minutes.

The fifth sitting started at 1050 Hours against the scheduled starting time of 1000 hours. The House proceedings started late by 50 minutes.

The Speaker of the House chaired the sitting for 68 minutes, while the Deputy Speaker was not present.

Two Members of Panel of Chairpersons, including Mr. Nadeem Afzal Gondal and Mr. Riaz Fatyana chaired the proceedings of the House for 81 and 117 minutes, respectively.

The Prime Minister was present for 46 minutes, while the Leader of the Opposition remained absent.

Only the Parliamentary leaders of PPPP, NPP, PPPS, and BNPA were present during the sitting.

The Chief Whips of the ANP and PMLF were absent, while the rest were present.

A total of 42 (12%) Members were present at the outset of the sitting, and 29 (8%) at the end of the sitting. A maximum of 182 (53%) Members were present at one point of the sitting.

The Finance Minister was present during the sitting.

Seven Members applied for leave to be absent from the sitting.

A total of nine out of 10 minority Members were present during the sitting.

Representation and Responsiveness

There were two Calling Attention Notices (CANs) on the Orders of the Day. The House took up one Calling Attention Notice.

The taken up CAN was regarding the “increase in the prices of fertilizers and non-release of the subsidy thereon announced in the fiscal year 2010-2011, causing grave concern amongst the public”. This CAN was directed to the Ministry of Industry, and was moved by five Members of the PMLN.

A total of 11 Members took part in the debate on the budgetary proposals. Three Members each of PPPP and PMLN spoke on the budget for 38 and 63 minutes, respectively. Two Members each of the PMLQ and MQM spoke for 27 and 23 minutes, respectively, while one JUI Member spoke on the topic for 17 minutes.

Order and Institutionalization

Fourteen Points of Order were raised, which consumed 70 minutes of the sitting time.

No Adjournment Motion was raised during the course of the sitting.

Members of PMLN staged a walkout that lasted eight minutes. Members of PMLN accused the government of delaying the flight of their political party leader (Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif) intentionally.

The quorum was visibly lacking at various stages of the sitting, but it was not pointed out by any Member.

Transparency

Orders of the Day was available to legislators, observers and others.

Information on Members’ attendance was unavailable to observers and the public.

The copies of the budgetary proposals were available to the concerned.

For more information, contact:
Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN)
FAFEN Representative
FAFEN Secretariat 224, Margalla Road F–10/ 3 – Islamabad
Tel: +9251 221 1026
Fax: +9251 221 1047
Cell: +92321 501 7355, +92301 854 9188
Email: media@fafen.org
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