As­sem­blies’ rules of pro­ce­dure: CPDI de­mands thor­ough re­view

The Pak Banker - - NATIONAL -

Cen­tre for Peace and De­vel­op­ment Ini­tia­tives (CPDI) has de­manded a thor­ough re­view of rules of pro­ce­dures to make it in line with the demo­cratic tra­di­tions. The rules of pro­ce­dures of Pak­istani as­sem­blies, in­clud­ing the Pun­jab As­sem­bly, are part of Com­mon Law orig­i­nat­ing pri­mar­ily in the prac­tice of House of Com­mons of the Par­lia­ment of the United King­dom.

Whereas UK as­sem­blies have in­tro­duced some revo­lu­tion­ary changes in the work­ing of the House and many com­mon­wealth coun­tries have fol­lowed it; Pak­istani as­sem­blies are still lag­ging be­hind in term of ef­fi­ciency, ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency. For ex­am­ple, an MP can ex­pect an­swer to ques­tion sub­mit­ted in House of Com­mon within 2 days; his coun­ter­part in the Pun­jab As­sem­bly has to wait for 12 months and in some case for 24 months to get an­swer of the sub­mit­ted ques­tions. Sim­i­lar ob­ser­va­tions can be made for gen­eral dis­cus­sion, work­ing hours, num­ber of work­ing days, bud­get ses­sions, quo­rum, and at­ten­dance of the MPAs and leg­is­la­tion process.

It was said by Syed Kausar Ab­bas, Pro­gram Man­ager of Cen­tre for Peace and De­vel­op­ment Ini­tia­tives (CPDI) while ad­dress­ing press con­fer­ence on pro­posed amend­ments on Tues­day. The at­ten­dance of the MPAs in the as­sem­bly ses­sion has long been the clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion. With strong Right to In­for­ma­tion leg­is­la­tion

in the prov­ince, it has at last be­come pos­si­ble to get such in­for­ma­tion. How­ever, there are still some is­sues at­tached with the trans­parency. Whereas the av­er­age at­ten­dance of the as­sem­bly, as shown on its web­site, is 180, the in­de­pen­dent sources have not con­firmed it. CPDI has sug­gested in­stalling bio­met­rics sys­tem at the gates of the as­sem­bly hall to take the at­ten­dance of the MPAs, Kausar Ab­bas said.

CPDI has also pro­posed elect­ing one speaker and two Deputy Speak­ers at the first sit­ting of the as­sem­bly af­ter the gener- al elec­tion. One speaker should be from govern­ment side and the other one from op­po­si­tion. The deputy speak­ers from op­po­si­tion should be ready to take the chair if speak­ers and deputy speak­ers from govern­ment side are ab­sent. In this way, there will be a con­stant pres­sure on the govern­ment that in case of ab­sence, op­po­si­tion will get the chance to pre­side the ses­sion.

Rule 24 of rules of pro­ce­dure clearly says that meet­ing time of the as­sem­bly is 9am to 2pm but this tim­ing is sel­dom ob­served. The av­er­age meet­ing time per sit­ting is not more than 2.5 hours. There are also se­ri­ous is­sues of punc­tu­al­ity at­tached to our as­sem­blies. Due to this, it very com­mon that all agenda item on or­der of the day can­not be taken up. CPDI has also sug­gested in­creas­ing the work­ing hours from 9am to 5pm. It will give suf­fi­cient time on the dis­posal of speaker to com­plete the agenda. At the same time, it is also sug­gested to in­crease the quo­rum of the house from 25% to 50% to make it truly rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

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