LAHORE - As many as 294 Punjab Assembly members (79 per cent) did not participate in the general discussion on the 10th consecutive budget presented by the PML-N.

Out of these, majority of the lawmakers (84 per cent ) had their affiliation with the ruling PML-N while 44 per cent belonged to the PTI.

Among 76 members taking part in budget discussion, 25 (33 per cent) were women lawmakers who consumed 23 per cent of the proceedings time (236 minutes).

According to a report compiled by the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), 17 lawmakers of the main Opposition party, PTI consumed maximum part of the discussions (eight hours and 27 minutes), followed by lawmakers of the ruling party, PML-N whose 50 members took six hours and 13 minutes.

Three lawmakers each of PPPP and PML spoke for 50 and 39 minutes, respectively while one lawmaker each of JI, Independent and JUI-F consumed 53 minutes, 15 minutes and five minutes, respectively, its session report.

Two days after the budget speech, the House commenced discussion on the budget that continued for four days, while 43 Demands for Grants were approved during the next two days. The provincial government managed to pass the Punjab Finance Bill 2017 on June 13.

The Opposition lawmakers moved six Cut Motions which were rejected by a majority vote. The remaining Demands for Grants were approved by the House under Rule 144 (4) of the Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, 1997. The last two sittings of the session were consumed by discussion and voting on the Supplementary Budget 2016-17.

The Cut Motions on Supplementary Demands for Grants were also rejected by the House.

As many as 76 out of 370 lawmakers (22 per cent) took part in the deliberations while the remaining 294 (79 per cent) legislators did not participate in the fiscal discussion.

The lawmakers spent 17 hours and 22 minutes (66 per cent of session’s duration) on the general discussion as well as the debate on Demands for Grants, Finance Bill and the Supplementary Budget.

The budget session of the Punjab Assembly started with an average delay of an hour and seven minutes, while each sitting lasted two hours and 39 minutes, on the average.

Fifty-nine members, on the average, were present at the outset and 80 lawmakers at the time of adjournment of the sitting. The Chief Minister attended three sittings consuming 11 per cent of the proceedings time.

The Leader of the Opposition, on the other hand, attended nine sittings consuming 37 per cent of the sitting time while the Finance Minister remained present during all 10 sittings consuming 87 per cent of the total time.

The Speaker chaired 8 per cent of the session’s time, the Deputy Speaker presided over 86 per cent of the proceedings, while two sittings remained suspended for six per cent of the session’s time. Among parliamentary leaders, those of JI and PML-Z attended four sittings each, followed by two sittings by the PPPP leader.  The Parliamentary leader of PML, PNML, and BNA-P did not attend any of the sittings. The quorum was pointed out seven times during the entire session.  However, it got completed on four occasions after the bells were rung for five minutes while it was found complete once upon head counting. During the 3rd and 5th sittings, proceedings had to be suspended for 64 and 30 minutes, respectively.

The House witnessed six walkouts for 85 minutes and four protests for 99 minutes during the reporting session. Two walkouts were observed by as many PML-N lawmakers over the Chair’s refusal to grant them extra time for their speeches while the entire Opposition walked out of the House on four occasions over interruptions by Treasury Benches over PTI lawmaker’s speech; imposition of new taxes, unwarranted remarks of a Treasury lawmaker and the rejection of their cut motions.

Four protests were observed by the Opposition lawmakers on the floor of the House during the session.

The Opposition protested during the speech of the Minister for Finance over treasury benches’ interruption during PTI lawmaker’s speech, allegations of corruption against the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister and the unwarranted remarks of a treasury lawmaker against the Opposition members.

The lawmakers spoke on 26 Points of Order during the session, consuming 34 minutes of the proceedings. Though reserved for matters related to the rules, the lawmakers used the POs to talk about various other issues as well.