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> Continuation of Democratic Process only way to improve Assemblies’ performance, says Deputy Speaker, Provincial Assembly of the Punjab
   
 
Roundtable Discussion
May 25, 2010
Lahore


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  • PILDAT launches Punjab Assembly Score Card
  • Punjab Assembly Performance achieves 43 % scores on IPU scale
  • Assembly Performance in Legislation improved tremendously
  • Assembly worked 4 hours a day on the average in the past 2 years
  • 45 % of the committees did not hold a single meeting in the last one year
  • Chief Minister attended only 6 (5 %) sittings in 2 years
  • 82 members (22 % of the total) did not speak a word in the last 2 years
  • Punjab Assembly pioneered the pre-Budget Session
  • Assembly stand during Governor’s Rule praised
  • Assembly expenditure Rs 10 million per working day on average

 
 

Lahore, May 25: Honourable Rana Mashood Ahmad Khan, Deputy Speaker, Provincial Assembly of the Punjab highlighted the importance of continuation of the democratic process to improve the performance of the assemblies and their members and overcome their shortcomings. Chairing the Roundtable discussion on the First Two Years of the 15th Provincial Assembly of the Punjab organized by PILDAT – Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development And Transparency, he said that fruits of democracy should reach all segments of the society and it should be the collective responsibility of the society to ensure respect and effective performance of the democratic institutions. He appreciated the efforts of PILDAT in documenting the performance of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab and presenting a Score Card as a pioneering effort. He stated that it is to the credit of this Assembly that pre-budget sessions were arranged and inputs were sought from MPAs. He also disclosed that about 70% of the present members of provincial assembly are new entrants and facilities for their capacity building to deliver as legislators are lacking.

 
 

Mr. Ahmad Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director, PILDAT gave an overview of the performance of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab based on a Score Card prepared by using the Toolkit originally developed by Geneva-based Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) which has parliament and provincial assemblies in Pakistan among its members. He highlighted that performance of the two years shows mixed results where the number of actual working days decreased 13% during the second parliamentary year compared to the first year. The Assembly completed its second parliamentary year on April 8, 2010. The Assembly met for 214 hours and 31 minutes during the second year, compared to 229 hours and 29 minutes in the first year which reflects a decrease of 7% in the working hours in the second year. He further added that 91 % sittings of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab during the two years have started late by 55 minutes on the average. The assembly, however, significantly improved its performance in the area of legislation as the number of government bills passed during the second Parliamentary year shows an increase of 217 % compared to the 1st year. The Acts to Ordinance Ratio was 6 Acts to 10 Ordinances during the first year which improved to 19 Acts to 3 Ordinances during the second year.

 
 

Highlighting the attendance of the Chief Minister, Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, he indicated that the CM attended only six (6) sittings of the Assembly in 2 years which constitutes about 5 % of the total 114 sittings. On the average, the CM spoke for 22 minutes per sitting he attended during the two years.

 
 

Mr. Mehboob also pointed out that 82 MPAs (22 % of the total strength of the Assembly) never spoke at all during the session proceedings in the entire period of 2 years while Rana Sana Ullah Khan, Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs, (PML-N; PP-70, Faisalabad-XX) had been the most vocal MPA during the 2 years followed by Mr. Muhammad Mohsin Khan Leghari, MPA, (PML; PP-245, Dera Ghazi Khan-VI) and Sheikh Ala-ud-Din, (PML; PP-181, Kasur-VII).

 
 

Discussing the performance of the Committee system, he said that Standing Committees relating to the government departments held 70 meetings compared to 37 in the first year registering an increase of 89%; Standing Committee on Education held the maximum number of meetings (i.e. 12) during the past 2 years. He pointed out that 15 Committees (40 % of the total Government-Department-related standing committees held just one (1) meeting each during the two years period while 17 committees (45 % of the total standing committees related to government departments did not hold even a single meeting during the second year. 2 Standing Committees (Committee on Information and Committee on Tourism and Resorts) remained without a chair throughout the first two years of the Assembly. He also highlighted that Rs. 1 Crore was the average expenditure per working day based on an annual budget of Rs. 698 Million.

 
 

A Steering Committee consisting of 34 members including 18 MPAs belonging to 5 political parties, 4 experienced parliamentary reporters working for different media houses, 3 senior journalists, 2 lawyers, assembly staff, a former senior civil servant and 2 PILDAT officials evaluated the performance of the Punjab Assembly for the last 2 months using the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Toolkit backed by the research carried out by PILDAT. Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Rana Mashhood Ahmed Khan headed the committee. As per the evaluation, the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab got an overall score of 43 %. In a similar evaluation of the 13th National Assembly of Pakistan carried out by PILDAT at the end of its 1st year in 45%9, it had received an overall score of 48 %.

 
 

Mr. Mohsin Khan Leghari, a member of the Public Accounts Committee of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab and the second most vocal member of the assembly during the past 2 years emphasized that democracy can only be strengthened by improving the functions and working of the assembly. He also stated that the foremost job of MPAs is to legislate. In this regard members should take more interest by meaningful contributions and participation in the proceedings of the assembly. The honorable member also pointed out that only by empowerment of the standing committees’ assembly can be made an effective institution.

 
 

Mr. Allah Nawaz, former Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court said that the members need to realize their actual role and functions as legislators.

In an open discussion several participants gave their general views and suggestions for the improvement and strengthening of the Provincial Assembly as a legislative institution.

The roundtable was attended by a large numbers of MPAs, scholars of political science, analysts, political parties officials, senior columnists, media persons, lawyers, youth and assembly staff. This round table was organized by PILDAT with the support provided by Pakistan Legislative Strengthening Project, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development – USAID.