Call for Senate’s meaningful role in budget-making process

Updated 11 Aug 2020

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Senate panel wants 20pc house recommendations included in the final document. — APP/File
Senate panel wants 20pc house recommendations included in the final document. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: A Senate panel on Monday called for empowering the upper house of parliament by giving it a meaningful role in the country’s budget-making process.

The Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice, headed by Javed Abbasi, in its meeting considered the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2020, (Amendment of Article 73), calling for amending 73(1)(A) to make it binding on the government to incorporate at least 20 per cent of the Senate’s budget recommendations in the final budget statement that is passed by the National Assembly.

The bill was introduced by Senators Manzoor Ahmed Kalsoom Parveen, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Mo­­hammad Akram, Sardar Moham­mad Shafiq Tareen, Mir Kabeer Ahmed Mohammad Shahi, Naseebullah Bazai, Mohammad Usman Khan Kakar, Ghous Mohammad Khan Niazi, Abida Mohammad Azeem, Sajjad Hussain Turi, Hilalur Rehman, Mian Moham­mad Ateeq Sheikh, Mirza Mohammad Afridi, Gul Bashra, Mushtaq Ahmed and Mohammad Javed Abbasi.

Panel wants 20pc house recommendations included in the final document

The movers observed that over the years senators had been working hard every year to study the budget statement and propose projects and schemes in different provinces, but regretted that none of those recommendations saw the light of the day because they were not included by the government in the budget and this situation had led to bringing the bill.

“There is no use of transmitting the finance bill to the Senate, if the recommendations given by its finance committee after a lot of hard work are to be thrown in the dustbin,” Chairman of the committee Senator Javed Abbasi said.

The law secretary asked the committee to call officials from the ministries of finance and planning in the next meeting to get their views on the proposed amendment.

Discussing the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2020, (Amendment of Article 140) introduced by Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi, the mover told the committee that the intent of the bill was to give constitutional cover to the post of advocate general of the Islamabad High Court.

The committee members supported the bill in principle, but the decision on the bill was deferred till the next meeting so that input from the interior ministry can also be considered.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Abbasi pointed out that under Article 140 of the Constitution, the governor appointed the advocate general of a province. He said there was no provision in the Constitution so far for appointment of an advocate general for Islamabad.

He regretted that a person not having required qualification had been appointed the advocate general for Islamabad through an executive order.

The committee passed the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2020, (Amendment of Article 25B), moved by Senator Sirajul Haq, calling for making the right to health facilities a fundamental right and declaring it in the Constitution. Currently, provision to health is a principle of policy in the Constitution.

The Islamabad High Court (Amendment) Bill, 2020, introduced by Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi, was also passed by the committee after a detailed discussion.

The bill seeks omission of the words ‘from the provinces and other territories of Pakistan’ from Section 3(1) of the Islamabad High Court Act, which in its present form reads: “The Islamabad High Court shall consist of a Chief Justice and six other judges to be appointed from provinces and other territories of Pakistan, in accordance with the Constitution.”

It was pointed out that Article 193(2) of the Constitution defined the qualification of a high court judge and under it he had to be a citizen of Pakistan.

Discussion was also held on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2020, (Amendment of Article 253A) introduced by Senator Mushtaq Ahmed and the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (Amendment of Article 100) intro­duced by Senator Rukhsana Zuberi.

The meeting was attended among others by Senators Ayesha Raza Farooq, Musadik Malik, Sana Jamali, Zeeshan Khanzada, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar and movers of the bills.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2020