NA, Senate sessions slated for next week to get FATF bills passed

Published September 8, 2020
Dr Awan called on the prime minister following the postponement of the Senate and National Assembly sessions scheduled for Monday.
Dr Awan called on the prime minister following the postponement of the Senate and National Assembly sessions scheduled for Monday.

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday decided to hold fresh sessions of the National Assembly and the Senate on Sept 14 and 15, respectively, in order to get the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and other important bills passed from the two houses.

The decision to call the fresh sessions was taken during a meeting between the prime minister and his adviser on parliamentary affairs Dr Babar Awan at the Prime Minister House.

Dr Awan called on the prime minister following the postponement of the Senate and National Assembly sessions scheduled for Monday.

According to a press release, various matters of importance came under discussion during the meeting.

“Now it has been decided that the fresh session of the National Assembly will be held on Sept 14 at 4pm and that of the Senate on Sept 15 at 10.15am,” Dr Awan told Dawn. He said FATF-related and other bills would be tabled before the two houses for fresh legislation.

The PM’s adviser said he had called a meeting of various ministries on Monday in which he directed the secretaries concerned to present all pending bills and ordinances relating to their ministries so that they could be extended by parliament before they lapsed.

PM discusses matter with parliamentary affairs aide

Asked why already convened sessions of the Senate and NA were shelved, the adviser said they were postponed due to devastation caused by the recent rains across the country. “Since many of our legislators are engaged in relief work, the government decided to postpone the sessions.”

According to the press release, the prime minister and Dr Awan also reviewed the Karachi Transformation Plan, which was unveiled on Saturday.

Regarding the FATF-related bills, the PM’s adviser said the government would not allow any delay in the passage of “bills of national interest”.

In reply to a question about convening of a joint sitting of parliament to get the FATF-related bills passed if the opposition opposed them again, he said no date for the sitting had been decided so far.

Two days ago, Mr Awan had said the government was considering referring the Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill and the Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties Bill — both rejected by the Senate — to the joint sitting of parliament.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said last week that he had asked the government to postpone the National Assembly session due to the uncertainty caused by the recent rains.

Under the 18th Amendment, if a bill passed by one house of parliament is rejected by the other, it can become a law only if it is passed by a joint sitting of the two houses.

The 104-member opposition-dominated Senate had rejected the two bills on Aug 25 through a voice vote after it objected to some of the provisions and linked its cooperation to retraction of remarks made by Leader of the House Dr Shahzad Waseem about certain leaders. These bills had been passed by the National Assembly only the previous day.

A day after rejection of the two bills, the opposition questioned the legality of the entire proceedings leading to the voting process and opposed convening of a joint sitting to resolve the matter.

The opposition has a thin majority of nine votes in the joint sitting, but the government is hopeful of getting the two bills passed.

Mr Awan said the government intended to bring the Anti-Terrorism Amendment (ATA) bill as per the demand of the opposition in the coming sessions of the two houses.

He said the government had previously planned to introduce a bill seeking an amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to accommodate some conditions of the Financial Action Task Force to bring the country out of the grey list.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2020

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