ISLAMABAD: The Senate did not see 100 per cent presence of members throughout the parliamentary year which ended on March 11, with the minimum attendance as low as 25 members, a report released by the Senate revealed.
According to the report, which was released at a press conference addressed by Leader of the House in the Senate Syed Shibli Faraz on Tuesday, the inaugural session of the new parliamentary year where half of the members were to take the oath was attended by 103 of the total 104 senators.
The minimum attendance of 25 members was recorded on July 20, 2018. The average attendance throughout the year remained 64.46, which means over one third of the total members skipped the Senate sessions.
The senators got answers to less than 18pc of the questions they asked. In all, 3,681 questions were received out of which 3,301 were allowed. As many as 2,616 admitted questions lapsed.
The legislative output of the Senate also plunged to half of what it was during the previous parliamentary year.
Mr Faraz, however, attributed the drop to transition and said it happened after every five years. He said that during the parliamentary year 2018-19, owing to the democratic transition that took place due to elections in both the Senate and the National Assembly, the Senate did not meet as often as it did in the previous parliamentary years, but the influx of business from the members still remained very high.
Answering a question, Mr Faraz said that the Senate should have a role in the passage of the annual budget. “We have been struggling for it for three years and have succeeded in generating a debate over it,” he said, adding that the struggle would continue and hoped for its success.
He said the government was trying to build consensus on the accountability law to amend the provisions of the plea bargain deal and powers of the NAB chairman. He said the government wanted an independent anti-graft body free from political influence and regretted that in the past NAB had been used as a political tool.
The leader of the house in the Senate conceded that there was some tension between the government and the opposition.
“This is not a normal situation. There is a paradigm shift,” he said while referring to the corruption cases against top opposition leaders. He said that 39 walkouts had been staged by the opposition during the year.
Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2019