ISLAMABAD - All opposition parties staged walkout from National Assembly on Thursday over government's non-serious attitude during the proceedings and absence of ministers from the house. Also, the session was adjourned due to lack of quorum; the presence of lawmakers was conspicuously thinner on treasury side than on the opposition benches.

PkMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai from treasury benches raised the concerns for lawmakers’ not taking the house seriously and ministers’ failure to respond to concerns raised on different matters, beside their frequent absence from the house.

"This parliament can summon any officer as it is supreme institution of the country," said Achakzai on point of order. The house can send any officer to jail for six months, so, the proceedings should not be taken so casually, he remarked.

Raising concern over thin presence of lawmakers on government side in a more explicit way, PPP’s Naveed Qamar strongly criticised government for non-seriously dealing with parliamentary matters. "This is not a debating club... House should be taken seriously," he said, adding that the absence of ministers to respond opposition's concerns is a very serious matter.

"Opposition lawmakers have time and again raised their concerns but no attention was given to this important matter," Naveed said before leaving the house in protest. He added they would not become part of this house in such a situation.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) MNA Sher Akbar Khan also put weight behind the concerns of PPP's lawmaker. Criticizing government's attitude, he also said the government should resolve the matter of electricity shortage in the country. Independent lawmaker from Multan, Amir Dogar also raised serious concerns over power outages in the country. He further pointed out quorum in the house when not more than 50 lawmakers were present there.

The house the other day (Wednesday) was also suspended for non-availability of relevant ministers or parliamentary secretary to respond the concerns raised by the opposition parties. Speaker Ayaz Sadiq had taken strong notice of the issue. He also invited opposition parties’ whips to discuss the issue.

Earlier on Thursday, The National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Bill, 2015 was sent to relevant standing committee. The statement of objects and reason of the bill says the conservation and efficient use of energy is pivotal for the development of Pakistan.

"It has a great potential to alleviate the adverse effects of shortage of energy supply causing energy crisis in the country and for this purpose it is imperative to establish institutions and stipulate mechanism and procedure for effective conservation and efficient use of energy in Pakistan," read the bill.

Another bill, 'The gas theft control and recovery bill, 2014,' was also sent to the relevant standing committee. A periodical report of the committee for the period November 2013-June 2014 was also presented in the house.

CNG SECTOR FREE TO IMPORT

LNG, NA TOLD

The government is continuously under question over the issue allegedly barring the private investors from importing LNG and the lawmakers in the lower house of parliament once again raised the issue on Thursday.

The treasury benches had to clarify the issue the third consecutive day in the parliament during the question hour session of National Assembly. State Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Jam Kamal Khan apprised the house that CNG sector was free to import LNG on its own and could enter into agreements with the related distribution companies for the supply of gas.

While dispelling the impression that the government had mala fide intentions against the CNG sector, he said that the government had even decided to facilitate the sector and for the purpose it has principally decided that gas infrastructure development cess (GIDC) will not be imposed on LNG-based CNG. Additionally only 5 per cent GST will be charged instead of 17 per cent, he said.

Another question raised by the lawmakers was that whether or not the government had imposed a ban on the domestic gas connections that the state minister also denied.

The lawmakers also raised the questions whether or not the government was considering installing electronic voting machines for the general elections. The minister of state for parliamentary affairs told the house that the government was in the process of studying the merits and demerits of the said system. He said that right now this being used only by India and it has to be checked that whether it was good for Pakistan or not. He apprised the house that Election Commission was looking into it presently.

Answering another question, Minister told the Lower House that Faisalabad-Multan Motorway is being constructed in four phases. The first phase of Faisalabad-Gojra Motorway has already been completed while work on the rest three phases is under progress. He said overlay and modernization of 357-km Islamabad-Lahore Motorway will be completed in 24 months.      

To a question regarding pending cases in Civil Courts at Islamabad Capital Territory, Minister for Law and Justice Pervaiz Rashid told the House that civil courts are governed by the Islamabad High Court.