Chaudhry Ahsan Premee
Associated Press Service
ISLAMABAD:June 09: The 2nd Parliamentary Year of the 14th National Assembly, that concluded in May 2015, has received an overall score of 48% in an evaluation of its performance based on a Framework developed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union-IPU. The performance of the National Assembly has remained largely stagnant with a marginal decline of just 1 percentage point from the Average Score of the 5-year tenure of the 13th National Assembly when it was scored at 49%. Figure 1 shows score of the 2nd Year of the 14th National Assembly for various aspects in comparison with the 5-year tenure of the 13th National Assembly of Pakistan.
Except for the attendance of the Prime Minister in the National Assembly sittings, 33 during 2nd year compared to only 7 sittings during the first year, the performance of the National Assembly has declined on almost all key indicators of assessment. Compare, however, the Prime Minister’s attendance in 36% of the sittings with that of the Leader of the Opposition, Syed Khursheed Shah, MNA, who attended 78% of the total sittings of the National Assembly during the 2nd year.
During the 2nd year of its tenure, the 14th National Assembly has only passed 8 Government Bills compared to 11 passed during the first year, registering a 27% decrease even though the Government Bills introduced during the 2nd year, 26, compared to 13 during the first year, saw an increase. The National Assembly’s Legislative Capacity has also declined in the evaluation scores by 1 percentage point. The Assembly’s legislative capacity has also suffered a significant drop of 75% from the 5-year average passage of bills in the 13th National Assembly.
Perhaps owing to lack of passage of any Private Member Bill during the first year of the Assembly, introduction of Private Members Bills during the second year has also seen a 42% decline — 25 Private Members Bills were introduced during the 2nd year compared to 43 during the first year. In comparison, the previous (13th) National Assembly passed, at average, over 3 Private Members’ Bills every year.
The number of days the 14th National Assembly met during the 2nd year has also declined by 12% – 91 sittings in second year compared to 103 in the first year. During both years, each sitting, on average has not lasted more than 3 hours.
54% fewer Resolutions were passed during the 2nd Year of the 14th National Assembly compared to the first year – 26 compared to 56 Resolutions passed during the first year.
The weakest aspect of performance in the 2nd Year of the 14th National Assembly is evaluated to be Accountability of the National Assembly, particularly with regards to the monitoring and review of levels of public confidence. Under this aspect, the National Assembly has received a low score of 38%, and has dropped by 3 percentage points from the 5-year average of the 13th National Assembly.
With the National Assembly refusing to publicly share attendance records of the MNAs, the average peak attendance observed for all the sittings of the 2nd Year was 145.68 (43% of the total attendance). As an average of the maximum number of members present for each sitting, this figure shows a rather weak performance of the legislators with regards to regularly attending the sessions of the National Assembly. The Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, which had earlier taken the lead among all Legislatures by live webcasting of its proceedings, has once again, taken the required initiative of making its members attendance available online. Despite a Provincial Legislature setting the standards in public access and transparency, the National Assembly continues to flout the universal standards of openness and transparency in this regard.
Second year of the National Assembly of Pakistan yet again passed without the introduction of any reforms for a meaningful role of MNAs in scrutinizing the Federal Budget — one of the key responsibilities assigned by the Constitution. The Assembly, as is the practice, barely went through the motions of passage of the budget in 13 days, without referring the budget to the Standing Committees. The days spent in discussion of budget also declined — 13 from 17 during the first year, registering a 24% decrease.
In the pre-budget phase, however, the National Assembly Standing Committees have begun to slowly but gradually make use of a new instrument of budgetary oversight by reviewing PSDP budgets of their relevant ministries. A total of 41 meetings were held by the National Assembly Standing Committees during the 2nd Parliamentary Year to review the PSDP proposals. Considering there are 30 Standing Committees of the National Assembly related to the Ministries, this averages out to 1.4 meetings per Committee.
The National Assembly’s Transparency and Accessibility has registered a decrease of 4 percentage points during its recently completed year as compared to the 13th Assembly with a score of 49%. Parliamentary Oversight over the Executive has also registered a decreased score by 1 percentage point: it scored at 49% during the 2nd Year whereas in the 13th National Assembly it scored 50%. The Representativeness of the National Assemblyhas received the highest score at 57%. The only area to show no change from the 13th National Assembly to the 2nd Year of the 14th National Assembly has been on Effectiveness of the National Assembly’s Involvement in International Policy. This aspect of the National Assembly’s evaluation has received equal scores both during tenures of the National Assembly i.e. 41%.
The scores were assigned by a PILDAT Evaluation Group that consisted of a diverse and representative group of current legislators, former legislators, eminent lawyers and media persons. It comprised of representatives from the National and Provincial Assemblies as well as the Senate. The politician group members had diverse political affiliation; it consisted of 4 members from the PML-N, 3 members from PTI, 3 from PPPP, 2 from PML-Q, 1 from MQM, 1 from PML-F, 1 from JUI-F, 1 from QWP, and 1 Independent elected official, 4 of whom were women.
The Score Card is based on an international framework developed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union to assist Parliaments and their members in assessing how their Parliament performs against widely accepted criteria for democratic Parliaments. The detailed Score Card with the scores on each individual sub-parameter can be found in Table 1: Comparative Score Card on the Performance of the National Assembly: 2nd Parliamentary Year.
The Evaluation Group consisted of Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, Acting Speaker, PML-Q, Provincial Assembly of Balochistan, Kiramat Ullah Khan, Former Speaker, PPPP, Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mr. Aslam Bhootani, Former Speaker, PML-Q Provincial Assembly of Balochistan, Mr. Wazir Jogezai, Former Deputy Speaker, PPPP, National Assembly of Pakistan, Syed Naveed Qamar Shah, Member of the National Assembly (MNA), PPPP, National Assembly of Pakistan, Mr. Shafqat Mahmood, MNA, PTI, National Assembly of Pakistan, Senator Mohsin Leghari, Senate of Pakistan, IND, Ms. Nabila Hakim Ali, Member of Provincial Assembly (MPA), PTI, Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, Dr. Murad Rass, MPA, PTI, Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, Mr. Qazi Adnan Fareed, MPA, PML-N, Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, Engr. Qamar Islam Raja, MPA, PML-N, Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, Mr. Faisal Sabzwari, MPA, MQM, Provincial Assembly of Sindh, Ms. Mahtab Akbar Rashidi, MPA, PML-F, Provincial Assembly of Sindh, Ms. Raheela Durrani, MPA, PML-N, Provincial Assembly of Balochistan, Ms. Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli, MPA, QWP, Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mr. Muhammad Asmatullah, MPA, JUI-F, Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mr. Wajih Uz Zaman Khan, MPA, PML-N, Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mr. Shahid Hamid, Former Governor of the Punjab, Mr. Salman Akram Raja, Lawyer, Supreme Court of Pakistan, Mr. Hamid Mir, Anchor, Geo TV, Mr. Saleem Safi, Anchor, Geo TV, Mr. Farrukh Khan Pitafi, Anchor, PTV World, Mr. Khawar Ghumman, Parliamentary Correspondent, Dawn News, Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President, PILDAT, and Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint Director, PILDAT.