MPAs allege private bills remain unaddressed by the speaker, provincial minister says they require proper budget
The Sindh Assembly, despite entering its fourth parliamentary year, has only managed to pass one bill out of the total 132 private member bills that had been submitted by lawmakers of opposition and treasury benches. This lone survivor is now known as the Sindh Water Management (Amendment) Act 2018.
Whereas the remaining bills, all drafted with great effort, have been collecting dust in the assembly secretariat for the past three years.
Data pertaining Sindh Assembly proceedings since 2018 reveals that a majority of MPAs, whose primary job is to make laws, remained mum in the assembly, allowing only 25 lawmakers the chance to take part in the legislative process.
The data, which is available with The Express Tribune, shows that 42 private bills were submitted by the MPAs in the first parliamentary year that spanned from August 2018 to 2019. Whereas, 65 bills were submitted in second parliamentary year i.e. 2019-2020, and 23 bills were brought by different MPAs in the third parliamentary year that ended on August 13 2021. Following which, only two bills have been submitted in two months of the current year.
Data also shows that Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) MPA Rabia Azfar Nizami, former Opposition leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi and MQM’s Rana Ansar submitted the most number of private bills during the last three years; moving 38, 18 and 15 bills respectively out of the total of 132 bills.
According to PTI MPA Sidra Imran, during assembly proceedings, every Tuesday is reserved as private members’ day, where assembly members’ agenda including bills and resolutions is addressed. “The agenda however gets bulldozed, and bills more often than not remain unaddressed by the speaker,” she alleged, offering a reason for the hundreds of pending bills.
Speaking further, the PTI MPA also brought up the Zainab Alert Bill, which deals with missing children and their recovery. In regard to the bill’s progress, she said that while the National Assembly and the Senate have passed the law, delaying tactics are being used in Sindh to hamper legislation. “Similarly, the most important bill moved by my party members was about empowering the local government system, but the provincial government has become a stumbling block in this regard too,” she claimed.
Mohammad Hussain of MQM had moved a privilege motion in the house in the last assembly session, questioning why private bills were not taken up in the house. “I am a member of this assembly, but the government has breached my privilege by not allowing private bills in the house. Action must be taken against those responsible and bills be passed in the house,” he had said.
Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Mukesh Kumar Chawla, opposing Hussain’s privilege motion said, “Most of the bills moved by MPAs are money bills that need proper budget. We make the law taking our resources into consideration. Despite this, I assure Hussain and others that their bills will be tabled in the house on merit.”
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Chawla was of the view that Sindh Assembly is the only assembly in Pakistan which has set precedence in terms of making the most laws and headway on various issues. “We have always come in favour of legislation for public interest. From the next session, we will put the private bills of the members on agenda and house will make the decision to pass or reject the same,” the minister concluded.