Monday October 18, 2021

Sheer waste of public money: National Assembly held no sitting but three ‘working’ days counted

September 18, 2021
Sheer waste of public money: National Assembly held no sitting but three ‘working’ days counted

ISLAMABAD: Three ‘working’ days of the National Assembly will be counted in its ongoing parliamentary year for the purpose of paying allowances and doling out other perks and privileges to its members despite the fact that no session was held at all. These payments are made and facilities provided only for attending sittings.

Late on Thursday evening, President Dr Arif Alvi summoned the new National Assembly session, as recommended by the government, to be held at 11am Friday. The attendance of members was so dismal that there was no quorum; just 86 MPs, a mere one-fourth of the total membership, were present in the session. Consequently, it was adjourned till Monday.

As per the rules, Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be counted as working days of the National Assembly for which the members will be paid allowances and given other perks and privileges attached with their presence in the House.

Since decades, the parliamentary practice has been that a new session is called a couple of days before the appointed time of its start mainly to enable members coming from far-off areas to reach Islamabad on the day of the sitting.

However, the present dispensation’s style of working is a departure from the past. It usually calls the National Assembly just a few hours before its session is to begin. Not only opposition members but also ruling coalition MPs are often unable to make it to the Lower House of Parliament — unless the government directs them to be present to take up some important legislation to take the opposition by surprise.