ISLAMABAD ( BMZ REPORT )

The 14th National Assembly passed 88 bills during 36 sessions (June 1, 2013 to October 30, 2016) focusing mainly on economy, security and judiciary, says Free and Fair Election Network in its Legislation Tracker Report released on Sunday. These legislative agenda were defined solely by the government as only treasury-sponsored bills could sail through the PML-N dominated Lower House while most of the Private Member’s legislative proposals remained stuck at the committee stage. The previous Assembly had passed 78 bills, including seven Private Members’ bills during the same period. The economy was one of main legislative themes of the 13thAssembly as well. It passed 17 bills related to economy but its legislative concerns also involved matters relating to human rights and education sector on which 12 and 10 bills were passed respectively.

The present government showed less reliance on legislating through ordinances as compared to the previous government. The currently PML-N led government laid 32 ordinances in the Assembly during 36 sessions whereas the previous PPPP-led government had laid 91 ordinances in the Assembly during the same period. However, 35 out of 91 ordinances were originally promulgated by the then President General Musharraf during the Emergency Period (November 3, 2007 to December 15, 2008). These 35 ordinances were given permanence in Provisional Constitution Order No.1 of 2007. However, the Supreme Court’s judgement on the above-stated Order deprived these ordinances of their permanent status and ordered to lay them before the Assembly. The ordinances laid in the National Assembly are treated as a bill. Both 13th and 14th National Assemblies approved 29 ordinances during the reporting period.

The present Assembly deviated from the regular legislative procedure at eight occasions and passed two Constitutional Amendments and amendments in security-related laws without referring them to committees. The requirements of the Rules of Procedure were suspended for early consideration and passage of these eight bills.

The standing committees also slowed down the pace of legislation as they took longer than stipulated time to report on legislative proposals referred to them. The committees are normally required to report on bills within 30 days. However, on average, a committee took 172 days to report on a government bill and 419 days to report on a Private Member’s bill. In case of government bills, the shortest period between introduction and committee reports was two days while the longest was 590 days. The reports on the State Life Insurance Corporation (Re-organization and Conversion) Ordinance, 2016 and the Credit Bureaus (Amendment) Bill, 2016 were received to the House within two days of their introduction while the report on the Foreign Exchange Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2014 was made after 590 days.

As many as 11 government bills were passed without waiting for recommendations of the committee. All of these bills originated as ordinances and were related to economy, security, energy and elections. Similarly, the committees have not submitted their reports on 114 out of 142 Private Members’ bills referred to them.

The committees reported only on 27 out of 140 Private Members’ bills so far of which 10 have been recommended for the passage while 17 have been rejected. However, the government has been reluctant to allow the consideration of these recommended Private Member’s bills. The initiators of these bills have repeatedly been moving the House to conduct second reading of these bills but the treasury requested their deferral each time. The ministers gave assurances to the House to introduce bills similar to those moved by Private Lawmakers. However, so far only one such law regarding Hindu Marriages was introduced in and passed by the House.

The lawmakers belonging to MQM introduced 40 Private Members’ bills followed by PMLN (27), PPPP (23), PTI (17), JUI-F (16) and JI (11). The sole lawmaker of QWP also sponsored a bill while remaining six bills were moved jointly by lawmakers belonging to various parties.

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