ISLAMABAD: The total working hours of the Senate amounted to 47 hours and 56 minutes during the 45-day session that ended on Feb 17, a report showed on Friday.

Since a break of two days is counted towards the meeting days, the Senate had been meeting for a day or two and then going for a break for two days.

In general, the Senate met for three days a week, but all the seven days were counted towards its tally of meeting days during the 317th session.

During the 45-day session, the house actually met for just 19 days, which translates into 42 per cent of the total days counted towards the meeting days on paper.

“Needless to mention that senators are paid their daily allowance for all the days counted towards the meeting days,” the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat) said in a report on the Senate session.

JI’s Mushtaq Ahmed, PTI’s Shahzad Waseem, PPP’s Sherry Rehman among most vocal senators

Overall, the house met for 47 hours and 56 minutes with an average time of two hours and 31 minutes per sitting. “If we divide the total working hours over the entire 30 days counted towards meeting days, the average number of working hours per day turns out to be just an hour,” it said.

On average, the Senate disposed of 72.57pc of its agenda items in the 19 sittings held during the 317th session, whereas the remaining items were left over.

Maximum agenda items disposed of were 100pc on Jan 7, Jan 11, Jan 18, Feb 4 and Feb 14, while the maximum agenda items left over were 88.89pc on Jan 14.

The quorum was pointed out in five sittings, whereas four sittings were adjourned due to quorum. On average, 63 senators marked their attendance in the session.

When the lack of quorum — which means fewer than 25pc (or 25) senators — was pointed out the first time, the upper house of parliament was not found to be in order. The bells were rung for five minutes and the house was later found to be in order when the count was made again.

The house was again not found to be in order when the quorum was pointed out the second time on Jan 4 and the proceedings were, therefore, adjourned. It must be noted that 69 senators marked their attendance that day, but the quorum was not present in the house when the count was made.

The sitting held on Jan 11 was also adjourned due to a lack of quorum, whereas 73 senators recorded their presence.

Similarly, the sitting held on Jan 14 was adjourned due to a lack of quorum where 43 senators were recorded as present. The fourth sitting that was adjourned due to a lack of quorum was held on Feb 7 when 61 senators marked their attendance.

The average attendance of senators during the 45-day session was recorded at 63pc, which means 63 senators attended a sitting on average.

The Pildat report showed that Jamaat-i-Islami’s Mushtaq Ahmed (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) was the most vocal senator during the 317th session with a recorded talk time of two hours and 41 minutes.

Leader of the House in the Senate Dr Shahzad Waseem of the PTI (Punjab) spoke for two hours and 18 minutes, followed by PPP Senator Sherry Rehman (Sindh), who spoke for one hour and 52 minutes during the session.

PTI Senator Faisal Javed (KP) spoke for one hour and 28 minutes, while PPP Senator Mian Raza Rabbani (Sindh) spoke for one hour and 14 minutes.

During the session, 15 bills were passed by the Senate, including the highly contentious State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill of 2022, described by the opposition as a surrender to the International Monetary Fund. The bill was passed by a margin of only one vote and the amendments proposed by the opposition were rejected. Moreover, 43 senators voted in favour of the bill while 42 opposed.

The government introduced seven bills while private members introduced 27 bills during the session. No ordinance was extended while four ordinances were laid in the house during the session, two each on Jan 18 and Jan 21.

Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2022

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