ISLAMABAD                 -                The Opposition in the Senate has urged the government to avoid legislating through Presidential Ordinances, instead of introducing the laws through the Parliament, in the wake of COVID-19 crisis.

The Opposition Senators said that the government should introduce necessary laws before the Senate and the National Assembly for a through debate before their passage so that the Parliament could assume its role of oversight and to legislate.

Last week, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government introduced two ordinances to ensure supply of daily commodities amid COVID-19 outbreak and to facilitate the construction industry to provide jobs to the unemployed people during the coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19 (Prevention of Hoarding) Ordinance, 2020 was promulgated to take stern action against those people who are involved in hoarding of essential items to sell them on higher prices. It also promulgated the Tax Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 to give relief in taxes to the construction industry.

The Parliamentary leader of Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) Mushahid Ullah Khan told The Nation that the government should summon both the houses of the parliament to introduce all laws through these instead of promulgating ordinances to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. “All institutions of the country are working in this crisis except the Parliament that is facing lockdown from the government,” said the lawmaker of a major opposition party in the Senate adding that the Parliament should be allowed to play its constitution in the wake of outbreak of pandemic.

Senator Usman Khan Kakar of the Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PMAP), another Opposition party in the Senate, endorsed Senator Mushahid Ullah and questioned why the government was avoiding to introduce legislation through the Parliament.

He urged the need to summon the Parliament to play its oversight role in the testing times. He also criticized the major opposition parties –Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and PML-N for not playing their due role in this crisis. “These two parties have limited themselves to giving statements only,” he said.

Former Chairman Senate and PPP Senator Mian Raza Rabbani said that ordinances were being promulgated in violation of Article 77 of the constitution as tax could be levied under law only. Further, role to intelligence agencies has been ascribed in the anti-smuggling ordinance without any debate in Parliament.”

The PPP stalwart said that the constitution envisages trichotomy of powers and two organs of the state, the executive and the judiciary are functioning during the spread of coronavirus. “But an impression is being given that the parliament will become the epic center of the virus of it was summoned,” he said adding that such an attitude was condemnable.

“The reason of creating this scare is to avoid Parliamentary oversight over the operations that are taking place or relief material being received,” he added.