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> Despite Promises, Government introduces no Reforms in the Parliamentary Budget Process after 4 Years
   
  • 13th National Assembly utilised a dismal 17 working days from presentation to debate and passage of Federal Budget 2011-2012; neighbouring India has Parliamentary Budget Process spanning 75 days

  • 13% increase in the number of working days this year compared to the previous year – though despite promises the Government introduced no reforms in Budget Process

  • 16% drop in time consumed in budget debate 2011 compared to 2008; total 35 hours consumed in Budget process in National Assembly compared to 41.6 in 2008

  • Sharp decline witnessed in number of MNAs participating in the budget debate over the last 4 years of the 13th National Assembly: 39 % less MNAs spoke in 2011 compared to 2008

  • 4% decrease in time used by opposition members in budget debate from 2008 in budget session 2011

  • Treasury benches consumed 22.5 hours or 64% of total time while opposition members spoke for 12.5 hours or 36% of the time in Budget debate

  • MQM members utilised almost twice as much time than warranted by their numbers followed by PML-N and JUI-F members

  • PM attended 12 days or 70% of budget session sittings compared to 3 days or 18% of the sittings attended by the Leader of the Opposition

  • National Assembly has not initiated a Pre-Budget Session while Punjab Assembly has changed its rules and been holding Pre-Budget Sessions for 3 years to seek legislators’ input into budget priorities

 
Citizen's Forum
July 13, 2011
Islamabad


Download Citizen's Report [PDF]
Download Urdu Version [PDF]
   

Islamabad: July 14; A PILDAT Report analysing from the Citizens’ perspective the performance of the 13th National Assembly of Pakistan during Budget Session 2011 laments that despite promises the Government and Opposition parties in the Parliament failed to introduce any reforms in the Parliamentary budget process that can allow for a meaningful role of Parliament in influencing and scrutinising the national budget.

 
 

Federal Budget 2011-2012 was tabled in the National Assembly on June 3, 2011 and was passed on June 22, 2011 lasting for a dismal 17 actual working days. There was a 16% drop in time consumed in budget debate 2011 compared to 2008; total 35 hours consumed in Budget process in National Assembly compared to 41.6 in 2008. The decade long average of budget sessions from 1998 to 2011 is 12 days while in comparison, in our neighbouring country India, the Parliamentary Budget Process spans over 75 days. Unlike the practise in other developing as well as mature Parliamentary democracies, Standing Committees in Pakistan are not allowed any role to scrutinise departmentally-related estimates or demands for grants and therefore no meaningful input is made in the Budget.

 
 

Similarly, while the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab has instituted a Pre-Budget Session every year from January to February, the National Assembly, despite understanding the need to do so in order to allow members to make an input into budget making and priorities, has failed to institute the tradition of a Pre-Budget Session.

 
 

The PILDAT report notes that a sharp decline is witnessed in the number of Members of the National Assembly participating in the budget debate over the last 4 years of the 13th National Assembly as 39 % less MNAs spoke in 2011 compared to 2008. In 2008 budget session, a total of 229 members participated in the budget debate whereas only 139 members participated during the 2011 budget session. The dwindling number of participants may be indicative of the waning interest of members in the budget debate. The budget session is considered by many MPs as a mere formality in which not much role is there for MPs to make any significant contribution. Year after year, MPs demand during the budget debate a greater role for influencing the budget at its preparation stages. It has also been repeatedly suggested that once the budget is presented, the National Assembly should have an increased duration to review it and the demands for grants for ministries should be referred to the respective standing committees for scrutiny before the budget is passed. This key reform in the Parliamentary budget process, however, remains elusive. During budget debate 2011, members from across political spectrum including Ms. Fauzia Habib, MNA, (PPPP, NA-296, Women Punjab–XXIV), Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, MNA, (PML-N, NA-117, Narowal-III, Punjab), Ms. Nuzhat Sadiq, MNA, (PML-N, NA-227, Women Punjab-V), Ms. Bushra Gohar, MNA (ANP, NA-322 Women Khyber Pakhtunkhwa-I), Ms. Khush Bakht Shujaat, MNA (MQM, NA-250 Karachi-XII) and Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari, MNA (PML, NA-172, Dera Ghazi Khan-II, Punjab), etc., forcefully raised that these reforms be instituted in the Parliamentary budget process.

 
 

The analysis notes that during the 2011 Budget Session, a total of 139 members took part in the discussion, 84 (60 %) of whom belonged to the treasury benches while 55 (40 %) belonged to the opposition benches. Treasury benches consumed 22.5 hours or 64% of total time while opposition members spoke for 12.5 hours or 36% of the time in Budget debate. A 4% decrease was also witnessed in the time used by opposition members in budget debate compared to 2008 budget session. MQM members utilised almost twice as much time than warranted by their numbers followed by PML-N and JUI-F members.

 
 

The report also notes that the Prime Minister of Pakistan attended 12 days or 70% of budget session sittings compared to 3 days or 18% of the sittings attended by the Leader of the Opposition.

 
 

While the principal opposition party, PML-N, criticised the conduct and performance of the defence sector and brought cut motions against the defence sector, the 2011 session saw a decrease of 58% in number of cut motions introduced by the opposition in the House compared to 45%8: 485 cut motions were introduced by the opposition during the budget debate 2011 where as the number of cut motions introduced during the Budget session for the financial year 45%8-45%9 were 1148.

 
 

Further details and analysis on Budget Session 2011-2012 is available in PILDAT Citizens’ Report on Performance of the 13th National Assembly of Pakistan: Budget Session 2011-2012 that is available in both Urdu and English languages.

 
 

A Citizens Forum to analyses the Budget Session Performance of the 13th National Assembly is also being organised by PILDAT today, July 14, in Islamabad.

PILDAT carried out analysis and prepared citizens report on this issue and is holding the Citizens Forum under support from a project titled Parliamentary and Political Party Strengthening Project –II for which it received support from Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade–DFAIT. The project is jointly implemented by the Parliamentary Centre, Canada and PILDAT.