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Senate’s 321st session remains non productive mainly because of short attendance

PakistanSenate's 321st session remains non productive mainly because of short attendance

ISLAMABAD: PILDAT analysed the 321st session of the Senate which began on September 26 and was prorogued on October 21. During the session spanning 26 days only 12 sittings were convened.

This 321st Session of the Senate met for 25 hours and 39 minutes with an average time of 2 hours and 8 minutes per sitting. The longest sitting of the session was held on Monday, September 26 when the House was adjourned after meeting 4 hours and 12 minutes. The shortest sitting was held on Friday, October 14 when 95.24% agenda items were left over and the House was adjourned due to lack of quorum after meeting for only 6 minutes, even though 41 Senators were recorded as present on the day. The average delay in starting a sitting was 5 minutes during the session.

On average 43.92% agenda items were left over during the 321st session and the Senate could dispose only 56.08% of its agenda items in 12 sittings.

Lack of quorum was pointed out 6 times in five (5) or 41.67% out of 12 sittings during the session. The same five sittings were adjourned due to lack of quorum. This was despite the fact that 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% sittings during the session. He was followed by Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Leader of the House (Punjab, PML-N), who attended only 2 or 18% out of 11 sittings during the session. It must be noted that Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar took oath as 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% Senators were recorded as present during the 321st session. Senator Dr. Shahzad Waseem, was the most vocal Senator during 321st session with a recorded talk time of 1 hour and 38 minutes.

During 321st session, the Senate passed 14 bills. Out of these, 3 private members’ bills were introduced in the Senate while 8 government bills and 3 private members’ bills were transmitted from the National Assembly. Twenty (20) Private Members’ bills were introduced during the session and all of them were referred to the concerned committees. No ordinance was laid or extended during the session

The quality of the time used during the session can be gauged by analyzing the time consumed on discussing key issues of democratic governance. During 321st session, total time consumed for discussion on policy issues spanned over only 3 hours while the Senate consumed 11 hours and 46 minutes on discussion of non-policy issues. The maximum time consumed in discussing policy issues was on a motion ‘Imposition of taxes on tobacco industry of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’ for 40 minutes while the House spent 1 hour and 40 minutes and 1 hour and 37 minutes on discussing non-policy issues of ‘Deteriorating economic conditions and inflation in Pakistan’ and ‘Inefficiency of the government in dealing with floods victims and rehabilitation work’ respectively.

It must be noted that PILDAT has classified that a policy issue is such that involves any amendment in 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 into policy issue and is treated as discussion or time spent on non-policy issues.

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