LAHORE: Despite enjoying an absolute majority in the 371-strong Punjab Assembly, the ruling PML-N seems inclined to relying more on ordinances for law-making instead of using the parliamentary tools for the purpose.

So far the provincial government has laid and got approved a record 64 ordinances in the House inviting criticism from the opposition.

The performance of the standing committees tasked with vetting the legislative proposals also has slowed down, reveals a report by an NGO.

The Fafen report says the committees took longer than stipulated time to report on the bills referred to them by the House.

The committees are normally required to report on bills within 30 days. But on an average, each committee took 52 days to give its recommendations on a bill.

One of the committees took the longest duration of 272 days to report on the Punjab Drugs (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015 while the shortest period between introduction and passage of the Punjab Local Government (First Amendment) Bill 2016, the Punjab Local Government (Second Amendment) Bill 2016 and the Punjab Agriculture, Food And Drug Authority Bill, 2016 was just two days.

Interestingly, 12 government bills were passed without waiting for the recommendations of committees.

Five of them were finance bills, which are not sent to the committee as per rules. But the other seven, two each were related to human rights, governance and one each to economy, judiciary and the issues of employees, were also passed through the same procedure.

Similarly, the committees did not submit reports on four private members’ bills as the government seems reluctant to allow consideration of the same.

The House has so far passed 137 out of total 152 government bills during 25 sessions held between June 1, 2013 and Dec 5, 2016, mainly focusing on governance, education, elections and human rights.

The lawmakers expressed less interest in private members’ bills as only five such bills have been introduced.

The private members’ bills, however, remained stuck at the committee stage.

Published in Dawn, December 26th, 2016

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