ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government completed its first year in power with a unique distinction – it did not enact a single law.

Although 11 bills were passed by the National Assembly in this period, apart from the finance bill for 2013-2014 (which does not require approval of the upper house), the current government could not get a single bill passed through the Senate and signed by the president. However, 12 ordinances were tabled in the first parliamentary year ending on May 31.

The PML-N enjoys a near-absolute majority in the National Assembly but cannot even claim a simple majority in the Senate, where the main opposition PPP holds a majority. The second parliamentary year is set to begin on June 2 and a joint sitting of both houses has already been convened.

According to data obtained from the National Assembly Secretariat, the lower house passed the finance bill in June last year, five bills in February this year, followed by three in March and two in April. These are currently awaiting debate in the Senate.

As many as 43 private members’ bills and 13 government bills were introduced in the National Assembly during the first parliamentary year. However, all 56 are pending discussion in standing committees. 

On the other hand, the government tabled 12 ordinances, including four controversial anti-terror laws, before the parliament amid protests by opposition members.

A comparative analysis of this data reveals that the current parliament’s legislative performance in its first year has been quite poor as compared to the first year performance of parliaments elected since 1985.

In its first year of the government of Mohammad Khan Junejo, parliament approved 23 laws from March 20, 1985 to March 20, 1986. Benazir Bhutto’s first government approved 13 laws in its first year.

The first Nawaz Sharif government got 24 laws approved from parliament in its first year. During Ms Bhutto’s second tenure, parliament passed 33 laws in its first year in office.

Mr Sharif’s second government set a record when parliament approved 47 laws during its first year and a total of 74 bills were passed into law until Oct 12, 1999.

The previous PPP government managed to pass only four bills in its first parliamentary year.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2014

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