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PA session adjourned within an hour.

LAHORE -- It was yet another dull and drab day at the Punjab Assembly that met for less than an hour, could not complete the agenda and, in the end, narrowly escaped quorum fallout as the Speaker quickly adjourned the House instead of ordering counting.

The House started proceedings at 11:25, with a delay of 2.25 hours. The agenda included questions on all-important Punjab Industries, Commerce and Investment Department and a discussion on the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC).

Only five questions were included in the agenda, instead of customary 17, making the hour even brief. All the questions belonged to the state of technical and vocational training, which fell under the industries department, rather than any queries on commerce and investment issues of the province - making preferences of the house.

A brief argument about the regularisation of contract employees of the Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (Tevta) took place between Punjab Minister for Industries, Commerce and Investment Mian Aslam Iqbal and Khalid Mahmood of the Opposition who wanted to know the fate of 23 contract employees in the authority. The minister argued that he could not regularise them because the Assembly Act, passed by the PML-N in 2018, did not authorise him to do so and all of them had to go through the PPSC for the regularisation process.

The opposition, however, thought that the act covered new recruitments, rather than previously inducted employees and the minister must be considerate enough.

Tevta workers regularisation spurs debate between Treasury, Opp

The debate, rather than sticking to the merits of the argument, soon denigrated into 'performance audit' of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the PML-N when the Opposition asked what the government was doing to improve technical training in the province. The minister was soon arguing: 'We are cleaning the mess created by the previous government. We are clearing Rs100bn returned cheque, servicing Rs1,500bn loans and cleaning metro mess'.

The Opposition, on its part, kept wondering as Waris Kahloon said, 'We simply want to know what the PTI has done in seven months of its rule on the issue of development of these Tevta institutions. Granted that the PML-N was poor performer, the star performer (PTI) should now start counting its deeds rather than reading threnody of the PML-N each time it is asked to perform'.

The minister, however, was not in obliging mood. The chair, occupied by young Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari, contributed its share in the argument, when he said that the PML-N had accepted being a 'poor performer,' let's now move forward and the House did.

A few adjournment motions were taken up and quickly disposed of as the ministers concerned came up with answers and the movers did not press ahead. The House was then supposed to take up the annual report of the PPSC when someone from the Opposition asked the chair to see the state of poor attendance in the House. The chair, instead of asking for counting, adjourned the House at around 12:10pm - still 20 minutes short of designated time of 12:30pm for Friday. The act only provoked allegations of partisanship as the Opposition came out of the house lamenting his behaviour. The House would not meet on Monday afternoon.

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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Mar 2, 2019
Words:596
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