PESHAWAR: The MPAs of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf overshadowed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly’s coveted finance committee after Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani, being its chairman, notified its members without in-house election which is mandatory under the Constitution and the assembly business of rules.
An eight-member committee was notified on November 11 and only one MPA from the opposition was included in it. Speaker will serve as chairman and finance minister as ex-officio member of the committee.
Other members of the committee include MPAs Arbab Waseem Hayat, Fakhar Jehan, Rangez Ahmad, Zahoor Shakir, Babar Saleem, all hailing from PTI, while Zafar Azam of Mutahidda Majlis-i-Amal represents the opposition.
Opposition member terms formation of finance committee unconstitutional
The notification said that the provincial assembly in its meeting “elected” members of the finance committee. “Consequently the under mentioned finance committee is hereby constituted for the purpose of Article 88 read with Article 127 of the Constitution and Rule-156 of the Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Procedure and Conduct of Business Rules, 1988,” it said.
A senior lawmaker from the opposition said that the speaker had acted in violation of Constitution and his oath by constituting the committee without fulfilling constitutional requirements and parliamentary formalities.
MPA Advocate Khushdil Khan, who belongs to Awami National Party, said that there was a provision in the Constitution that members of the finance committee would come through election. He said that speaker had formed finance committee without election or seeking consultation with the opposition.
He said that Article 88 read with Article 127 was very clear about the constitution of the finance committee that stated that the assembly would elect its members. He said that PTI was doing it in a clandestine manner and bypassed the opposition.
“The speaker has violated his oath and constituted the committee in violation of the Constitution and rules of business of the assembly which can be challenged in the court,” said MPA Khushdil.
He said that Rule 156 (2) of the Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Procedure and Conduct of Business Rules, 1988 clearly mentioned: “The Finance Committee shall consist of Speaker, Minister for Finance and six other members to be elected by the Assembly.”
Major functions of the finance committee are preparation of budget, supplementary estimates and demands for excess relating to the assembly and its secretariat, appropriation and re-appropriation and all financial matters relating to expenditures of the assembly and its secretariat within authorised appropriation.
It is worth mentioning that the assembly had passed a unanimous resolution in its last session in October to empower Speaker Mushtaq Ghani under Rule 193 to appoint chairmen and members of the house’s standing committees to avoid waste of time.
MPA Khushdil Khan, who was mover of the resolution, claimed that formation of the finance committee was out of the purview of the said resolution. It seemed that the ruling party had misinterpreted the resolution, he added.
Speaker Mushtaq Ghani, when approached, said that members of the finance committee had never been elected in the past. He claimed that Constitution and rules of business of the provincial assembly authorised the speaker to appoint members of the finance committee.
“Opposition would have never got representation in the finance committee if the process was completed through election,” he said, adding that chairmanship of 10 standing committees had been given to the opposition keeping in view its total strength.
“Opposition is not in a position to capture chairmanship of a single standing committee if the matter is put for vote in the house,” he said.
Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2018