Quorum issue mars NA session

ISLAMABAD – The government faced an embarrassment in the National Assembly for the second consecutive day on Friday when it failed to carry out regular business due to the lack of quorum as most of the treasury members including ministers remained absent.

The government could not dispose of 16 agenda items, as no more than 40 lawmakers from both sides of the aisles were present in the House when it resumed.

The opposition pointed out the quorum when National Assembly Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi did not give the floor to members to take up issues as the chair wanted to run the House according to the order of the agenda.

“I will give you the floor after taking the agenda as per order of the day,” said the chair when the opposition lawmakers demanded the floor.

On it, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lawmaker Nafeesa Shah asked her colleague to point out the quorum.  She pointed out the first four empty rows of treasury benches when only two ministers were sitting in the House.

PPP MNA Dr Shazia Sobia immediately pointed out quorum forcing the chair to adjourn the session. Normally, the chair asks for the headcount and suspends the House, in case of lack of the required strength, this time around, the deputy speaker abruptly adjourned the proceedings due to the quorum issue.

Earlier, Minister for Postal Services Maulana Amir Zaman responding to a call-attention notice about non-allotment and delivery of government residential accommodations to employees of NA and Senate Secretariat said a summary has been sent for approval in this regard.

A bill ‘The Health Service Academy (Restructuring), Bill 2017’ was also introduced in the House.  The statement of object and reason says, “Health Services Academy (HAS) is a leading public health institute in the country, offering doctoral programme, postgraduate diploma and master in public health and in health economics and management. The bill seeks to designate the HSA as a degree awarding institute.

CPEC SEZS OPEN FOR ALL INVESTORS, NA TOLD

The government announced on Friday that special economic zones being developed under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor were open for all including foreign nationals.

Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal in his written reply told the National Assembly that the CPEC was a bilateral initiative between China and Pakistan and its nature was inclusive and not exclusive being a part of the larger initiative of the ‘One Belt One Road’.

“The CPEC SEZs are open for all investors including local, Chinese and other foreign nations,” the reply said.

Though the CPEC — a $46 billion Chinese investment initiative in Pakistan with an economic corridor from Gwadar in Pakistan to Kashgar in the Chinese region of Xinjiang — has been initiated, several aspects of the mega project still need clarification.

It is not only very promising from Chinese perspective that they will get the shortest access through Gwadar to the Middle East and Africa, where thousands of Chinese firms employing tens of thousands of Chinese workers, are involved in development work but also it could be a tempting opportunity for trade for the rest of the world.

Many of the representatives of the important countries including Spain, Romania, Italy and Saudi Arabia have shown their interest to be part of the project.

Many ambassadors of other foreign countries have also shown interest in the project in private gatherings.

The Foreign Office, however, did not seem very thrilled to entertain those queries. Although Pakistan has offered international community to join SEZs, modalities were still to be announced. According to the minister for planning, 15 energy projects have already been started under the CPEC.

Four power projects — Sahiwal Coal Power Plant, Hydro China Dawood Power Wind Power Project, UEP Wind Power and Sachal Wind — have attained the COD, while most of the others will be completed by the year 2019. Suki Kinari hydropower project and Karot hydropower project were expected to be completed by 2020-2021.

 

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