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Record legislation in a Punjab Assembly session.

LAHORE, July 25 -- The Punjab Assembly's recent 19-day session, though marred with a controversy with the media, passed a record number of bills, thanks to a boycott by the opposition and journalists.

The 19th session of the current provincial legislature was summoned by Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer through a notification that besides its routine business of Question Hour, privilege and adjournment motions, call attention notices' adopting resolutions, amending the Rules of Procedure of the Punjab Assembly, and implementing for the first time, the changes introduced in the 18th Amendment to re-enact an ordinance.

If we study the performance of the Punjab Assembly's 19-day session, we see that the controversy with the media, row with Sindh regarding opening of the Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal, the Afghan transit trade agreement, the opposition's boycott, lack of quorum and passing of several bills were the main features of the latest session.

The House members received Rs 25 million from the national exchequer against their 25-day performance. According to the assembly's Rules of Procedure 1997, a member is entitled to get Rs 2,650 as daily allowance. This allowance is not given from the day the session commences, rather, from three days prior to this. The assembly members even get the allowance for three days after the last day of the session. The PA Secretariat also pays this allowance to members when the assembly is in session but not working.

Normally, the assembly holds its sittings from Monday to Friday. The members are also given travel allowance at Rs 5 per kilometre. This allowance is calculated by the distance between the member's constituency and the assembly building, and multiplied by two. This allowance is paid once during a session. At the moment, there are 370 members in the Punjab Assembly, while a seat is vacant due to the resignation of Shumaila Rana, a PML-N legislator elected against a reserved seat for women. If calculated, these legislators have become entitled to daily allowance for 25 days with every member 'earning' Rs 66,250. The total amount paid to these members is Rs 24,512,500. The travel allowance given to the members is around Rs 500,000. Thus, the total amount 'earned' by the members has crossed Rs 25 million.

In the current session, the following bills were adopted: the Punjab Urban Immovable Property Tax (Amendment) Bill 2010, King Edward Medical University (Amendment) Bill 2010, Punjab Land Revenue (Amendment) Bill 2010, Punjab Public-Private Partnership for Infrastructure Bill 2009, Punjab Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority Bill 2010, Punjab Examination Commission Bill 2010, Women's University Multan Bill 2010, the Sasti Roti Authority Bill 2009, the Institute of Southern Punjab, Multan Bill 2010 and the Punjab Healthcare Bill 2009.

Besides adopting these bills, the government also introduced three new bills, which were sent to the standing committees concerned. These bills included, the Forest (Amendment) Bill 2010, the Global Institute Lahore Bill 2010 and the Lahore Leads University Bill 2010, while a private member, Seemal Kamran of the PML-Q, also introduced a bill called the In-House Working Women Protection Bill 2010. The assembly also passed the amendments proposed in the House Rules of Procedure. The amendment was considered 'important' - the name of the Punjab Assembly Standing Committee on Law was changed to Punjab Assembly Standing Committee on Law, Prosecution and Human Rights. The business was taken up as a motion under Rule 244-A of the Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab 1997.

It is the first time after the passage of the 18th Amendment that the Punjab Assembly adopted a resolution under Article 128-2(a) for extension in the validity period of the Punjab Industrial Relations Ordinance 2010. In the past, an ordinance could be re-promulgated several times and the governments would re-promulgate an ordinance when it expired. By amending the constitution, an ordinance can now be re-promulgated only once, subject to the passage of a resolution by the legislature concerned.

The assembly has failed to present reports of its two accounts committees and the deadline has also lapsed for their presentation. The law minister has sought permission to extend the period fixed for presentation of these reports of several govt departments. These reports include: appropriation accounts of the Punjab Forest Department for 2005-06; audit reports of the accounts of the Punjab govt for 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10; audit reports of the accounts of revenue receipts of the Punjab govt for 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10; audit reports of the accounts of Punjab's civil works C&W, HUD & PHE, I&P, LG&CD, P&D and EP departments for 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10; and audit reports of the accounts of the provincial govt's public-sector enterprises for 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10.

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Publication:Daily Times (Lahore, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jul 25, 2010
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