KARACHI: Opposition parties appeared not satisfied with the overall performance of the Sindh Assembly in 2017, saying that only two of the 10 private bills, leave for which was granted, were passed by it.
Similarly, out of 20 privilege motions, only five were referred to the privilege committee while 15 others were either not granted leave or withdrawn.
On the other hand, the assembly passed 33 bills presented by ruling Pakistan Peoples Party members.
The opposition was of the view that despite repeated reminders to constitute a business committee for smooth functioning of the proceedings, it was not formed.
As a result, a number of motions and resolutions moved by the opposition were bulldozed by the PPP, which had a majority in assembly, without assessing their importance.
Despite persistent request by the opposition that criteria for allocation of funds to districts be made on the same principles as adopted by the federal government for the provinces, it was not addressed by the house.
Even use of development funds of Rs100 million for each constituency was left at the discretion of deputy commissioners.
MQM leader Sardar Ahmad said if the PPP had a majority it did not mean that it did not listen to opposition parties and rejected their bills without assessing their importance.
He said democracy meant collective rule by all members of the house.
Mr Ahmad also said that no pre-budget discussion took place from January to March this year by the Sindh government as required by Rule 143.
Similarly, discussions on completion of each quarter as required by Rule 144 were not held.
“Only quarterly reports, that too quite late, were placed before the assembly and no discussion ever took place on them,” he said.
Regarding attendance of the members, Sardar Ahmad said average attendance remained 60 per cent.
“Most of the members regularly arrived late for sessions and because of it the sessions started 45 to 90 minutes late,” he said.
“About 15 to 20 per cent members used to leave the house before its adjournment,” he further said.
He also pointed out that most of the bills awaited implementation because of lengthy bureaucratic hurdles.
PML-F’s Nand Kumar Goklani said the PPP government despite in power since last nine years not only failed to deliver to the masses but also failed to improve its performance in the assembly.
“The treasury benches continued to handle opposition business ruthlessly on the basis of their brute majority,” he said.
“Whenever we tried to raise pressing public issues for discussion, our motions or resolutions were not admitted for consideration,” he added.
Mr Goklani said that was why the opposition had to stage a walkout and lodged a protest.
He said the opposition was not taken on board in most of the cases as far as legislation was concerned.
“Soon after introduction of a bill by the ruling PPP it is taken for consideration, passed and adopted instead of referring it to the standing committee concerned,” he added.
He alleged that nepotism and favouritism remained on the rise during the PPP government and blue-eyed persons were given high positions.
Mr Goklani said the mechanism the PPP had developed over the years was the biggest hurdle in bringing change in the Sindh government through votes.
PML-N’s Shafi Jamote said the opposition despite small in number played its role well and made every effort to raise public issues and fight for the rights of the ‘oppressed’ people.
He said not only the opposition but the people of Sindh were not satisfied with the performance of the PPP, which failed to deliver even after nine years in power.
“Unavailability of clean drinking water, medical and educational facilities, and transport system is an open proof of mismanagement and collapse of the PPP government,” he added.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Khurram Sherzaman, who replaced Samar Ali Khan as its parliamentary leader in the last session, expressed satisfaction over the performance of his party.
“Though we have only three lawmakers, we tabled more resolutions than any other party, including the MQM,” he said.“The absolute majority of the PPP did not allow us to pass a resolution for welfare of the people.”
He said he had submitted proposals to reform police in the province but they were not taken up yet.
PPP’s Nisar Ahmad Khuhro, who is also a senior minister in the cabinet, expressed his satisfaction on the overall performance of the assembly.
He said Sardar Atta Muhammad Marri had ruled as the speaker that legislators who failed to turn up on time will sit for at least four hours and the practice continued since then.
In reply to a question, Mr Khuhro said the opposition had been raising public interest issues but they did not carry out their homework properly which led to dismissal of their bills and then they accused the ruling party of harsh treatment.
He further said that it was quite encouraging that during 2017 most of the legislation and resolutions were passed with consensus.
Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani expressed dissatisfaction over lack of interest by lawmakers.
“Late arrivals of MPAs show their lack of interest in Assembly affairs,” he said.
Mr Durrani said some of the members did not even speak during discussions.
“It is very important that MPAs take active part in discussions because new issues are raised in the Assembly every day and discussion on them provide us an opportunity to learn new things and how to get the issues solved,” he concluded.
Published in Dawn, December 27th, 2017