The image shows a view of the National Assembly. — File Photo
The image shows a view of the National Assembly. — File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The PML-N government continues to mull over the option of whether to keep the chairmanship of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) or let the opposition PPP run the most important committee of the National Assembly.

As per the National Assembly rules, the government and opposition by now should have completed consultation process for the chairmanship of the PAC, but they are still to make a formal contact in this regard.

Talking to Dawn, the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Sheikh Aftab of the PML-N, whose ministry is primarily responsible for proceeding ahead with the formation of the standing committees of the house, including the PAC, said: “Because of the budget session, the issue is still pending.”

But on the question whether the government would allow the PPP to run the PAC, Mr Sheikh said: “We haven’t discussed the matter within the party because of our preoccupation with the budget, and we intend to take up the formation of committees after the prime minister’s coming visit to China (July 4-8).”

When pressed, the parliamentary affairs’ minister said that his own thinking was that the precedent set in the last assembly should continue and the PPP should run the PAC. But a final decision would be made by the leadership and the subject was still under discussion, he added.

Aware of the fact that the government was already late on the formation of standing committees of the house, the minister again gave the excuse of the budget which the new government had to present within a week of the prime minister’s election. He said selection of the committee members after seeking their choices and then their chairmanships were a tedious job which required time. “We are on to it and will do it as soon as possible,” said Mr Aftab, who refused to give any timeline by which the government will complete this process.

National Assembly rules are quite clear on the time limit within which the house should have its standing committees formed. Chapter 20 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly 2007 deals with the constitution and functions of all committees of the National Assembly and Rule 200 says: “Except and otherwise provided in these rules, each committee shall consist of not more than 17 members to be elected by the assembly within 30 days after the ascertainment of the Leader of the House.”

Although the deadline is there, but the delay can be condoned by putting a motion before the house, said a staff member of the National Assembly.

On the other hand, the potential PAC chairman, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah, told Dawn that he had yet to receive a commitment from the government whether the PPP would be given the charge of the PAC though verbally, it had been said the PPP would keep the PAC.

“Maybe the government is waiting for the next session of the National Assembly which is a must for announcing the formation of committees by moving a resolution, but as of today I haven’t been approached by the PML-N,” Mr Shah said.

He expressed the hope that by upholding good parliamentary traditions, the PML-N government would allow the PPP to lead the PAC.

When asked if given the chance, would he himself become the PAC chairman, Mr Shah said since he was too busy in other party affairs, he would nominate some other members to take the charge of the committee. But it all depended on the PML-N’s decision whether or not it wanted to go ahead with the Charter of Democracy.

Talking to Dawn, a PML-N member said that the only reason the party was considering keeping the post of PAC chairmanship for itself was that it wanted to take up cases of financial mismanagement committed during the PPP government.

He said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would make a final decision after his China visit. Despite repeated attempts, Federal Minister for Information Senator Pervez Rashid wasn’t available to give the government’s response.

In the previous National Assembly, the PPP, in line with the Charter of Democracy (CoD) signed between the two parties let the leader of the opposition head the PAC.

Former leader of the opposition, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, remained the PAC chairman for around three years before resigning from the position due to differences with the PPP government over the appointment of the Auditor General of Pakistan.

For the remaining two years, Nadeem Afzal Gondal of the PPP was picked to chair the committee meetings.

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Comments (6) (Closed)


faisal
Jul 02, 2013 01:25pm

Yes, PMLN is right to avoid offering PPPP the Chair of PAC, Because of Bad intentions of PPPP to settle the financial mismanagement of their government. I will strongly suggest PMLN that in no way offer PAC to PPPP. There would be nothing dangerous to this Nation than giving PPPP this parliamentary panel.

On the same keep PAC under government is also a poor practice that mean there would be no monitoring of the on-going projects of the recent government, PMLN will start exploring the backlog to criticize previous government. The Good at the moment what Government and Opposition can do is a litmus test to offer the third party (PTI) to chair the PAC. This third party can be neutral, and might take the courage to do the both 1) investigate backlog of the previous Governments 2) to monitor the PMLN’s on-going projects which none ever dared to do in the previous PACs neither any government allowed performance monitoring (Audit Performance) of its projects. We can only benefit from this institution if we work on Audit performance and Value for Money concepts. Never been an idea in local jurisdictions. The tit-for-tat game must over now, In case last PAC have cleared the backlog then there could be reason to offer PPPP but it’s clear that PPPP will be settling its wrong done of the previous government. PAC should be given an upper hand especially over its agenda and its independence must be ensured. The Speaker National Assembly and the top leadership of PMLN had greater experience of the functioning of the PAC and its pending issues. More they better understand its purpose. PAC is the only Institution that can ensure Good Governance, Transparent Financial Management System and can curb corruption. Considering the composition of the National Assembly, PMLN should advance for Better Pakistan not to waste another five years by giving PAC to PPPP and in the same they should not keep it under them. the 3rd party option is the more suitable to follow with justifiable proportion of all parties.

arqumhuda
Jul 02, 2013 01:48pm

This post should be given to PTI as it is also a part of the opposition.

faisal
Jul 02, 2013 07:41pm

Yes, PMLN is right to avoid offering PPPP the Chair of PAC, Because of Bad intentions of PPPP to settle the financial mismanagement of their government. I will strongly suggest PMLN that in no way offer PAC to PPPP. There would be nothing dangerous to this Nation than giving PPPP this parliamentary panel.

On the same keep PAC under government is also a poor practice that mean there would be no monitoring of the on-going projects of the recent government, PMLN will start exploring the backlog to criticize previous government. The Good at the moment what Government and Opposition can do is a litmus test to offer the third party (PTI) to chair the PAC. This third party can be neutral, and might take the courage to do the both 1) investigate backlog of the previous Governments 2) to monitor the PMLN’s on-going projects which none ever dared to do in the previous PACs neither any government allowed performance monitoring (Audit Performance) of its projects. We can only benefit from this institution if we work on Audit performance and Value for Money concepts. Never been an idea in local jurisdictions. The tit-for-tat game must over now, In case last PAC have cleared the backlog then there could be reason to offer PPPP but it’s clear that PPPP will be settling its wrong done of the previous government. PAC should be given an upper hand especially over its agenda and its independence must be ensured. The Speaker National Assembly and the top leadership of PMLN had greater experience of the functioning of the PAC and its pending issues. More they better understand its purpose. PAC is the only Institution that can ensure Good Governance, Transparent Financial Management System and can curb corruption. Considering the composition of the National Assembly, PMLN should advance for Better Pakistan not to waste another five years by giving PAC to PPPP and in the same they should not keep it under them. the 3rd party option is the more suitable to follow with justifiable proportion of all parties.

Abdul Rasheed
Jul 02, 2013 10:26pm

@faisal: Yes you are right, It will be better for transparency and accountability. PTI Should be offered and someone like of Asad Umar shoud be assigned the position of Chairman of PAC.

kam
Jul 02, 2013 10:44pm

@faisal: Simple point of giving the position to the PTI chairman Imran Khan or any other in his party would suffice.

adeelharoon
Jul 02, 2013 11:31pm

@faisal: If sincere with the people and state, both pmln and Pppp should offer a third party for their parliamentary oversoght.