ISLAMABAD - As many as 11 lawmakers including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan did not show up in the National Assembly for a single sitting to take part in the debate on the federal budget 2017-18.

Khan, the main critic of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government and a prominent opposition lawmaker, instead preferred to spend time in the serene hill station (Nathia Galli) to enjoy the pleasant weather.

Khan during these budget-related proceedings also had Iftar dinners with old cricketing fellows.

In one of his tweets, Khan mentioned, “Had Iftari today with 2 cricketing greats: greatest batsman of my time Viv Richards & my inspiration as captain Ian Chappell”.

On an average, 220 lawmakers (64 percent of total) attended each sitting of the 43rd session (specified for debate on the finance bill), while 11 MNAs from different parties did not appear during the whole session.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif turned up only for one sitting during the budget proceedings and attended six percent of the proceedings in the whole year, while Opposition Leader Khurshid Shah attended 13 sittings and attended 34 percent of the proceedings.

The lower house of the Parliament passed the federal budget for the financial year 2017-18 during its 43rd session that spanned over 15 sittings. It was the fifth budget of the PML-N government in the 14th National Assembly parliamentary year that was debated and passed amidst opposition’s boycott.

According to figures compiled by an independent entity, FAFEN, the general discussion on the budget consumed nine sittings with 68 lawmakers (20 percent) taking part in the debate.

The duration of the current budget session was 37.4 hours as compared to 80.2 hours of the last year’s budget session.

Moreover, the average delay in the commencement of sittings witnessed a surge from 10 to 38 minutes. While, last year, the budget debate continued for 11 sittings.

The House took two days to approve the current and supplementary demands for grants. The government moved 150 demands for grants for the upcoming fiscal year and 124 demands for grants for the financial year ending on June 30. The opposition lawmakers submitted 1,704 cut motions on these demands, however, none of those could be moved due to the absence of the relevant lawmakers from the budget proceedings.

In addition to the Finance Bill, the House considered two government and nine private members’ bills. One of the government bills, the Companies Bill, 2017, was passed while others were referred to the relevant committees for review.

The NA speaker presided over 62 percent of the proceedings this year as compared to 44 percent of the last year’s budget session. The deputy speaker chaired 19 percent and the panel of chairpersons 17 percent of the proceedings, says the FAFEN breakup.

Moreover, the lawmakers adopted two resolutions, the one condemning the attacks on Iranian Parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini and the other recommending the government to play its role in resolving the diplomatic crisis between the Gulf States and Qatar. The lawmakers also raised two calling attention notices on issues of public importance.

The lawmakers raised 489 points of order (POs) consuming 22 percent of the proceedings. The POs were related to the political affairs instead of the business of the House.

Last year, only four percent of the proceedings were consumed by the POs. Moreover, the incidents of walkouts and protests increased from last year’s four to 18 as the opposition parties boycotted the budget proceedings after the government refused to telecast their speeches live PTV.