ISLAMABAD:(APS)March 11, 2017-Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani has said that the Senate is second home to the provinces as it is represents the Federating Units of the country. He said that under the constitution it is the obligation of the federal government to announce the National Finance Commission (NFC) after every five years but it is not being implemented. He said that if the federal government fails to announce the NFC in stipulated time, the Senate should have the powers to extend the award for a year and also to enhance the share of the provinces by one percent.
He was addressing a seminar organized by Senate of Pakistan on “ Enhancement of Powers of Senate for Stronger Federation” here at the Parliament House on Saturday which was also participated by the Deputy Chairman Senate Molana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Leader of the House Senator Raja Muhammad Zafar ul Haq, Leader of the Opposition in Senate Atizaz Ahsan , Chief Minister of Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah, Speaker Balochistan Assembly Ms. Raheela Durrani, Speaker Khyberpakhtoonkhawa Assembly Asad Qaiser , representative of the Chief Minister Punjab and Senior Minister Raja Ishfaq Sarwar and Secretary Senate Amjed Pervez Malik
Mian Raza Rabbani said that strong provinces are the manifestation of the stronger federation, therefore, it is necessary that for protection of the powers of the federating units their representative house of the Parliament, Senate should be strengthened. He said that as strong federation is the need of the hour both the Houses should have equal powers and voting strength during the joint setting of the Parliament. He said that enhancement in the powers of the Senate does not mean depriving the provinces of their authority and autonomy but it would pave the way for better representation of the federating units and strong federation. He said that since inception of Senate, it is striving for equal representation of the provinces. He said that there is paradigm shift as we have changed from the Presidential form of government to the parliamentary and participatory form of government and it is a political reality.
He said that under the 18th amendment it was agreed that the Council of Common Interest (CCI) would be constituted and would have an independent secretariat for collective administration of the national resources of the country. He said that it was agreed that CCI Secretariat would have the same status as the Cabinet Division has for the Federal Cabinet. But unfortunately it has not been implemented as yet. He said that it would be better to implement this constitution provision and the Secretariat be given the administrative control of the natural resources of the provinces.
Chairman Senate said that there is need to amend the constitution by adding a provision under which the Chief Minister of the provinces can address the Senate and present their issues and report performance of the province. He recalled that the Chief Minister Khyberpakhtoonkhawa while protesting in front of the Parliament House along with his Cabinet gave a list and report pertaining to the 24 demands of the provincial government to the Senate. He said that the Senate constituted a Committee on those 24 demands which after due diligence and consultation with all the stakeholders including the provincial government and the relevant departments of federal government has presented a report to the House. But the provincial government wants that the said Committee should continue to supervise the implementation process on these recommendations.
Mian Raza Rabbani suggested that all the foreign loans agreements should be ratified by the both Houses of the Parliament to ensure that the relevant constitution provisions are being implemented with regard to volume of the foreign debt. He said that during the joint sitting of the Parliament the effectiveness of the Upper House and representation of the federating units comes to zero level, which is against the spirit of the 1973 constitution. He said that bringing the Upper House of the Parliament at par with the Lower House in term of the powers of the both is not unprecedented as it is being practiced in democratic countries. He said that the services and sacrifices of the people for rule of law, supremacy of the Parliament and democratic governance have not been recognized in the past even by different democratic governments. A monument constructed in front of the Parliament House would compensate for this negligence of the past.
Speaking on the occasion Deputy Chairman Senate Molana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri said that increasing the powers of the Senate is tantamount to strengthening of the federation and the provinces.
Leader of the House in the Senate Raja Muhammad Zafar ul Haq appreciated the role of Chairman Senate in 18th constitution amendment and for transforming the Upper House of the Parliament. Leader of the Opposition in Senate Atizaz Ahsan has said that the sense of deprivation of provinces should be minimized by giving them more powers. He said that role of the Senate for making the federation strong is unprecedented.
Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah said that Senate has played an effective role in the provincial autonomy and better coordination among the Provinces. He said that inclusion of senate members in the PAC is a welcome step and proposed that the issues and disputes among the provinces in the Council of Common Interest should be presented in the senate as it is the true representative of the Federating Units.
Speaker Khyberpakhtoonkhawa Assembly Asad Qasir said that uneven distribution of resources among the provinces is hurdle in sustainable development. He said that the efforts of the Senate for inter-provincial harmony must be appreciated and given due consideration. Speaker Balochistan Ms Rahila Durrani said that less developed segments of the societies and areas have been represented by Senate in befitting manners. She said that the recommendations of the senate for address of the Chief Ministers of the provinces in the Upper House is a welcome step which need to be applauded.
Secretary Senate of Pakistan Amjid Pervaiz Malik appreciated the consist support of the provincial governments and the assemblies to the Senate of Pakistan for promoting commonly cherished ideals of federalism and provincial autonomy and cohesion. He said that in a federation like Pakistan with wide ranging disparities among federating units, the House of Federation has much role to play on the principle of participatory federalism.