PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Secretariat is planning to arrange study-cum-training tour for its members to United Kingdom to broaden their vision and knowledge about the lawmaking process.
The plan is the brainchild of Speaker Asad Qaisar, who along with opposition leader Maulana Lutfur Rehman and parliamentary leaders, had visited London and Scotland in January.
He had discussed the idea with the quarters concerned during the UK visits.
Lawmakers from the treasury and opposition benches will visit the UK, where they will interact with the members of House of Common and Scottish Parliament.
Speaker says most MPAs elected for the first time, so they need training about parliamentary business
The first batch consisting of 15 to 20 MPAs is likely to leave for the UK in July and will stay there for at least two weeks.
Speaker Asad Qaisar told Dawn that the purpose of arranging study tour was to build the capacity of legislators about the house’s business, legislation and development programmes, and broaden their vision.
He said the British Council was playing the role of facilitator between the KP Assembly Secretariat and the House of Commons to arrange the tour.
The speaker said he personally discussed the matter with British High Commissioner Thomas Drew CMG during his recent visit to the assembly secretariat.
Justifying the proposed trips, he said majority of the KP Assembly’s members represented the middle class and had been elected for the first time and therefore, they required training to learn about the parliamentary business and governance-related issues.
Asad Qaisar said the UK Department for International Development (DFID) had been providing financial and technical assistance to the provincial government in different sectors, especially education, and that MPAs would also get the opportunity to learn about development policies during the trip.
A 14-member parliamentary delegation consisting of Speaker Asad Qaisar, senior ministers Sikandar Hayat Khan Sherpao, Inayatullah Khan and Shahram Tarakai, education minister Mohammad Atif Khan, mines and minerals minister Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli, special assistant to the chief minister Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani, Maulana Lutfur Rehman, Syed Jafar Shah, MPAs Mohammad Ali Shah and Nighat Orakzai, Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha along with senior officials of the secretariat had visited the UK in January.
Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, who was also accompanying the delegation, flew back from Dubai as militants attacked the Bacha Khan University, Charsadda.
Interestingly, the study trips are being arranged when the sitting assembly has completed three parliamentary years. The assembly has passed around 100 bills during these years. The general elections are due in 2018.
Officials said the sending of lawmakers abroad to learn parliamentary business was a waste of the taxpayers’ money.
They said the institution like the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services had already existed in Islamabad, which was established under an Act of Parliament in 2008.
The main objectives of the PIPS are to assist parliamentarians in making informed policies by conducting or commissioning independent research on topical issues, arrange professional development and orientation programmes for elected parliamentarians and staff of the national parliament and provincial assemblies and provide technical support and various intellectual and knowledge resources to parliamentarians.
An official said the KP Assembly paid Rs7 million to the PIPS every year to provide technical and intellectual support to its members.
He said other three provincial assemblies also paid annual grant to the institute.
“When a prestigious institute exists in Pakistan, then there is no need to send MPAs abroad for learning the house’s business and parliamentary norms and values,” he said.
The official said the language would be a major barrier for vast majority of lawmakers during the tour as they couldn’t interact with their counterparts and trainers in the UK.
Giving details of the academic qualification of the lawmakers, the secretariat website shows that 24 per cent of the total lawmakers are matriculate, three members have studied up to the middle level, and five have done FA, 24 BA, nine MA, three MBBS, four MSc, five LLB and three BSc.
Speaker Asad Qaisar said the assembly would bear the expenses of travel allowance and daily allowance of its members during their stay in the UK.
He said the host country’s institutions would share the financial burden to facilitate the trip.
The assembly secretariat had financed the previous trip, while the provincial government had also sanctioned Rs4.7 million.
The speaker said MPA of the KP Assembly had been attending training sessions and workshops in the PIPS or organised by the United Nations Development Programme and other organisations.
Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2016