321st Senate session spent three hours debating policy issues: PILDAT

January 27, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The 321st session of the Senate, which began on September 26 and was prorogued on October 21. It spanned 26 days, but only 12 sittings were convened, and lack of quorum caused the...

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ISLAMABAD: The 321st session of the Senate, which began on September 26 and was prorogued on October 21. It spanned 26 days, but only 12 sittings were convened, and lack of quorum caused the adjournment of five or 41.67% of the sittings of the Senate in the 321st session.

According to the PLDAT analysis report for the 321st Session of the Senate, it met for 25 hours and 39 minutes, with an average time of two hours and eight minutes per sitting. The longest sitting of the session was held on Monday, September 26, when the House was adjourned after meeting for four hours and 12 minutes. The shortest sitting was held on Friday, October 14, when 95.24% of the agenda items were left over and the House was adjourned for lack of quorum after meeting for only six minutes, even though 41 senators were recorded as being present on the day. The average delay in starting a sitting was five minutes during the session.

On average, 43.92% of the agenda items were left over during the 321st session, and the senate could dispose of only 56.08% of its agenda items in 12 sittings. Lack of quorum was pointed out six times in five (5) sittings, or 41.67% out of 12 sittings, during the session. The same five sittings were adjourned for lack of quorum, and this was even though on average 63 (63%) senators marked attendance in the session.

Senator Dr. Shahzad. Waseem, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Punjab, PTI), attended 12 or 100% of the sittings during the session. He was followed by Senator Ishaq Dar, Leader of the House (Punjab, PMLN), who attended only two or 18% of the 11 sittings during the session. It must be noted that Senator Ishaq Dar took oath as a senator on September 27, 2022, and replaced Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar on September 30, 2022, as Leader of the House.

On average, 63, or 63%, of the senators were recorded as being present during the 321st session. Senator Dr. Shahzad. Waseem was the most vocal senator during the 321st session, with a recorded talk time of one hour and 38 minutes. During its 321st session, the Senate passed 14 bills. Out of these, three private members’ bills were introduced to the Senate, while eight government bills and three private members’ bills were transmitted from the National Assembly. As many as 20 private members’ bills were introduced during the session, and all of them were referred to the committees concerned, while ordinances were laid or extended during the session. The quality of the time used during the session can be gauged by analysing the time consumed discussing key issues of democratic governance.

During the 321st session, the total time consumed for discussion on policy issues spanned over only three hours, while the Senate consumed 11 hours and 46 minutes on the discussion of non-policy issues. The maximum time consumed in discussing policy issues was on a motion “Imposition of taxes on the tobacco industry of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa” for 40 minutes, while the House spent one hour and 40 minutes and one hour and 37 minutes discussing non-policy issues of “deteriorating economic conditions and inflation in Pakistan” and “inefficiency of the government in dealing with flood victims and rehabilitation work,” respectively.

It must be noted that PILDAT has classified a policy issue as one that involves any amendment to a bill or a recommendation on devising a policy. Any discussion on an issue that does not go beyond mere criticism or highlighting a concern does not fall under a policy issue and is treated as time spent on non-policy issues.



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