KARACHI: Despite a passage of seven months to its first session, the Sindh Assembly has failed to form its 34 standing committees and the Public Accounts Committee to keep an eye on the performance of each provincial government department and to have an oversight on public spending, it emerged on Sunday.
According to Rule 129 of the Rules of Procedure of the Sindh Assembly, “the assembly shall during its first session after the general election, elect the standing committees”.The general elections were held on May 11 and the first session of the Sindh Assembly was held on May 29 in which 155 MPAs took oath and the next day speaker and the deputy speaker of the house were elected.
The first session of the house was adjourned after paying tribute to the outgoing Speaker Nisar Ahmad Khuhro and the next day Agha Siraj Durrani and Syeda Shehla Raza were elected new speaker and deputy speaker. Afterwards, PPP’s Syed Qaim Ali Shah was elected as the leader of the house and became the chief minister for a third time.
Mr Shah had presented its first budget on June 17 and the house passed it on June 29 amidst a protest walkout by the opposition against levying an enhanced property tax and general sales tax on services.
Since then, none of the 34 standing committee was formed and no MPA had been elected as member of any of the standing committees.
However, the assembly, which is the 14th elected house of the province, set a good record of legislation as it had adopted 16 bills and over a dozen resolutions during the seven-month period.
The Sindh Assembly is comprised of 168 members. The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party has 92 members, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement has 51, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (11), PML-Nawaz (10) and the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf has 4 members.
Except the ruling PPP, all parliamentary parties in the Sindh Assembly sit on opposition benches. However, during the seven months, it was witnessed only twice when all the opposition parties became united and boycotted the assembly proceedings to lodge a protest against the amended Sindh Local Government Act, 2013.
The highest number of legislation business was carried during its Sept 19 sitting when the house passed nine bills in absence of the opposition MQM.
In the Aug 19 session when the LG law was taken up through a government bill it was opposed by the MQM. However, other opposition groups including PML-F and PML-N supported the government bill.
The MQM also protested against the Sindh University Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013, which restricted the powers of the governor to make various key appointments in the public sector universities and other higher educational institutions.
However, all opposition groups became united on Oct 31 and Dec 20 when the treasury brought amended LG law in the house. The joint opposition staged walkouts when it was not allowed to move their resolution rejecting the amendment and terming them illegal and undemocratic.Besides the LG issue, the assembly had also had taken initiative to address some very important issues by adopting appropriate laws to check crimes and serve suffering humanity. The laws include the Witness Protection Bill, 2013, the Sindh Prevention and Control of Thalassaemia Bill, 2013, the Sindh Mental Health Bill, 2013, the Gambat Institute of Medical Sciences (Amendment) Bill 2013, the Sindh Newborn Screening Bill, 2013.