KARACHI - The ruling PPP suffered a setback in its way of smooth legislation in Sindh Assembly when it failed to ensure the attendance of 42 members required for the quorum on Friday as thin opposition in the House forced the government benches to defer the legislation on the Sindh public procurement through amendment bill.

As MQM continued their boycott of session, the MPAs from the opposition benches while pointing the lack of quorum and opposing the amendment in the public procurement bill gave tough time to the ruling PPP and forced the government to defer legislation on the controversial law.

At the commencement of the session one and half hour late at 11.25am against schedule time of 10am in the morning with Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza in the chair, only 19 MPAs were present in the house, while MQM lawmakers didn’t attend the proceedings and continued their boycott of the Assembly.

After prayer for deceased souls, the chair directed to take up the question-hour, which was pertained to Auqaf and Wildlife Department.

A total of seven questions were listed in the order of day as chair continued calling the name of movers with question numbers to ask supplementary queries but no one from movers was available in the house at the moment, so the question-hour was disposed off within three minutes.  After completing the question-hour, the law minister Ayaz Soomro stood up on his feet and urged the chair to allow him to take up the bills for legislation. He once again moved a motion to defer the introduction and consideration of ‘Sindh Arms Bill 2013’ for next sitting of Assembly on coming Wednesday, which house approved unanimously.

Later, the law minister took up bill number 12, ‘Sindh Public Procurement (Amendment) Bill 2013’ for introduction and consideration at once.  Speaking on general principles of the bill, law minister Muhammad Ayaz Soomro said that the aim of the proposed amendment in the Sindh Public Procurement law is to exempt the government from Sindh Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (SPPRA) rules and empower it in procurement of any material/object or class of object in national interest.

After the Law minister’s brief speech, the MPA Arif Mustafa Jatoi of NPP from opposition benches while speaking on the bill opposed the amendment and said that in the name of national interest, the government is going to violate the rules of Sindh Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (SPPRA).

Opposing the proposed amendment in the bill, Arif Jatoi said that now the Transparency International Pakistan is issuing the reports on corruption of the government annually, but after the passage of new bill, such reports may come every month about each department. He said that in the name of national interest the government will violate the procurement rules.  He went emotionally, saying that peoples’ government, which got votes in the name of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, passing a worst bill which will open the door of corruption and bad governance, so we strongly oppose it. Replying the opposition MPA’s remarks, Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon said that Transparency International Pakistan’s chief Adil Gillani was removed from his job in KPT on corruption allegations.

Information Minister alleged that Transparency International has recently prepared a report about an organization but it was not made public because its chief Gillani got patrol pump and residential plot in agreement to not release the report.

Lawmakers from opposition benches rose on their seats and demanded to take the name of the organization which gave plot and patrol pump to the transparency international. Information Minister said he can’t take its name in assembly but ready to disclose it in in-camera. During the allegations, Nusrat Sehar Abbasi of PML-F from opposition benches rose on seat and drew the attention of the Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro lack of quorum in the house. Opposition lawmakers Jam Madad, Arif Jatoi, Nusrat Sehar and Marvi Rashdi stood on their feet and continuously pointing out the lack of quorum in the house but law minister and other front-benchers made efforts to bring their members in the house to complete quorum but they failed as only 37 members were present including seven members of opposition benches in the house. Jam Madad of PML-F said that though it was understandings between government and opposition to start session at 10.30am, while no one from opposition will point out the lack of quorum. But when important legislation was in process but lack of quorum witnessed in the house, he said.

Arif Jatoi while quoting the rule 92 urged the Speaker to suspend the proceedings for five minutes and ring the bell to complete the quorum for five minutes.

Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro agreeing with the opposition benches said that he has two options either to suspend the proceedings and ring the bell for five minutes until the quorum completed or law minister should move a motion to defer the legislation which is in process for next sitting.

Law minister agreed with the second option of Speaker and moved a motion to defer the consideration on the Sindh Public Procurement amendment Bill 2013, which house approved unanimously.  This was the first in five years of the sitting assembly when lack of quorum was visible, besides it was the success of the opposition lawmakers who forced the government to defer the legislation until the quorum is not completed. In the total members of 168, over 100 MPAs belong to the ruling PPP but it failed to bring the 42 members in the house for legislation and faced embarrassment of lack of quorum in the house.    After deferring of the bill, the quorum was completed within few minutes and law minister tabled ‘Jacobabad Institute of Medical Sciences Bill 2013’, which passed unanimously. The USAID is construction a modern hospital with $10 million dollars in Jacobabad, for which Sindh government will provide land and other facilities.

Meanwhile, the MQM lawmakers continued their boycott of the assembly and staged a token sit-in at the stairs of the Sindh Assembly for the second consecutive day on Friday against the withdrawal of criminal cases against banned Peoples Amn Committee activists.  The lawmakers while carrying placards and banners inscribed with demands continued chanting slogans against the withdrawal of the cases.

Along with other colleagues, Provincial minister and MQM leader Syed Faisal Sabzwari while talkingt to the media said that withdrawing the cases from the criminals of the Lyari gang-war criminals is a enmity with the Karachi. He said that PPP leaders contacted with the MQM but in presence of the notification of withdrawal of cases the negotiation with the ruling PPP is not possible.