LAHORE-The Punjab Assembly did ‘record’ legislation during its 32nd session spreading over 29 days, by passing 35 bills pertaining to different provincial departments. It cost the national exchequer around Rs 82.60 million on the whole in terms of allowances paid to the parliamentarians and the Assembly staff.  

Apart from its legislative business, the Assembly also took up 89 adjournment motions, 22 resolutions of public interest, seven privilege motions, call attention notices and questions pertaining to provincial departments.  

Though in legal terms, the Assembly remained in session for 29 days, but the actual working days were not more than 21 considering the two weekly off days during which no sitting took place. However, as per Assembly rules, the parliamentarians will get paid for 35 days and Assembly staff for 45 days. 

Out of the total 35 bills passed by the Assembly, only a few were fresh pieces of legislation, and the rest were amendments in the existing Acts necessitated as a result of the 18th amendment in the Constitution. The Punjab Governor has returned 19 bills to the Assembly for reconsideration, raising legal points. Consequently, the government will have to bear some additional expenditure to repeat its earlier exercise in the Assembly.

It merits mentioning here that drafts of all bills tabled in the assembly for its adoption are actually prepared by legislation branch of the law department; and the concerned Standing Committee of the House, usually comprising 13 members, has nothing much to add into the original draft except changing some comas and full stops or replacing one word with another one.  And when a bill is taken up by the assembly for adoption, the members are only required to say “Yes” or “No”. 

The legislators received around Rs 25.32 million as daily allowance against their 21 -day ‘performance’. According to the assembly Rules of Procedure, 1997, a member is entitled to get Rs 2,650 per day as daily allowance.  Apart from this, a member is also entitled to monthly emoluments of Rs 47,000 irrespective of whether the assembly is in session or not. They are also entitled to traveling allowance at the rate of Rs 5 per kilometer which is calculated by counting the distance between member’s constituency and the assembly building, and the resultant figure is multiplied by two. Three days prior to start of the session and an equal number of days after its adjournment are also counted for the purpose. 

The Assembly staff will get around 20 million rupees as daily allowance besides other payments involving overtime and additional pay. If we judge the performance of the Punjab Assembly in 21 days during when it actually remained in session, it spent only a few hours on legislation, its primary job. The rest of time was wasted in quarrels on trivial issues which had nothing to do with peoples’ problems.  The 32nd session was also marred by Opposition’s boycott, rumpus and lack of quorum. A lot of precious time was wasted on irrelevant point of orders raised by members just for the sake of political point scoring. Unlike in the previous sessions, this time around, adjournment motions and call attentions notices surpassed privilege motions.