LAHORE - The Punjab Assembly on Wednesday passed four bills with majority vote besides referring three Ordinances to the relevant committees seeking reports within two months.

Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi come with all guns blazing against the previous regime after showing soft corner for the PML-N led opposition for months.

The House also witnessed heated debate on decades long issue of empowering the standing committees.

The House passed four bills – Code of Procedure (Punjab Amendment) Bill 2020, Punjab Prevention of Hoarding Bill 2020, Punjab Infectious Diseases (Prevention and Control) Bill, and Punjab Private Education Institutions Promotion and Regulation Bill 2020.

Three ordinances – the Ravi Development Authority, Unnecessary Cooperative Societies of Punjab and Punjab Cooperatives (Amendment) Ordinance – were introduced in the House which the chair referred to the relevant standing committees with the directions to submit reports within two months.

During the Question Hour on Housing and Urban Development Department, the chair criticized the previous government for not giving an efficient sewerage system to Lahore despite ruling the province for 10 successive years.

He chided ex-Chief Minister and now PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif saying the latter would use to get photographed while wearing long shoes during monsoons.

If he had worked instead, the sewerage system would have been improved to the relief of the masses, he added.

For the last many months, the chair had been showing soft corner for the opposition and at times would even join them in grilling the government for the latter’s poor performance.

PML-N’s Malik Muhammad Ahmed raised the issue of powers for the committees at a point of order arguing since the lawmakers would lose their interest in the panels many of which won’t meet even for a single time during five-year term of the assembly.

He said the working of the House depends upon the working of the committees. Speaker acknowledged that it was a serious issue raised earlier in the House for improving members’ interest in the committee work.

Law Minister Raja Basharat assured the House that the treasury was ready to play a positive role about whatever the direction would give in this respect.

The chair then announced forming a committee to scan rules of procedures of the national and other provincial assemblies for making recommendations on empowering the Punjab Assembly’s Standing Committees.

The legislators have been seeking suo motu powers for the Standing Committees since the 14th House (2002-07) of the provincial assembly for an effective accountability of the government, the very purpose of the panels and even of the House.

Likewise, a similar panel was formed during 2008-13 when the PML-N came into power only to see the issue lingering on as every succeeding government was reluctant to entrust the committees the required powers fearing ‘unnecessary’ meddling into governance by these bodies.

The National Assembly’s bodies are empowered to take up on their own any issue related to their ministry/division and to some extent Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly’s committees have also won the powers in 2013-18 tenure. On completion of agenda, the chair adjourned the session till Thursday (today) at 2pm.