Islamabad: The year 2020 was marked with the ever worst Pandemic of COVID-19 which halted the wheel of life all around the world including Pakistan. Inspite of the severe emerged challenges due to COVID-19, National Assembly remained steadfast and stood shoulder by shoulder with the Nation and kept itself in functional state to tackle the socio-economic challenges in the country. The House focused on socio-economic issues through its debates, adjournment motions, question hour and Standing Committees.
During the year 2020, the Legislative performance of the House remained remarkable. Total working days of the National Assembly during the Year were 123 including the Joint Sittings. During the year 58 Government Bills were introduced, 14 ordinances were laid on the table of the House whereas 31 Government Bills were passed during Sessions of National Assembly held with Speaker Asad Qaiser in the chair. During the said period 34 Government and 2 Private Members Laws were also enacted by the National Assembly. Furthermore, 79 Private Member Bills were introduced and 06 Private Members’ bills were passed that depicts the active involvement of Private Members in the legislative process.
During the year, 19 resolutions were adopted on different national and international issues out of which the most glaring were regarding Combating Islamophobia, Commemorating 73rd Anniversary of the Assembly and on the Finality of the Prophethood. During the year, 6130 Questions were received out of which 891 Questions were answered during the Sessions of the National Assembly. Taking up Motions tabled under rule 259 of the rules of Procedure and Conduct of the National Assembly, 2007 on important issues like the tragic incident of Rape on Motorway, COVID-19, Agriculture Policy, Privatization and Kashmir Issue National Assembly debated the Motions for 6 hour and 23 minutes. While issues of Escalation in COVID-19 Pandemic, fatal crash of PIA flight in Karachi and issues of Privatization of Airports and Steel Mills, Sugar issues also came under discussion.
During the year 2020, a total number of 460 Motions under Rule 259 were received out of which 40 were disallowed and 54 were brought before the House out of which discussion could take placed on 6 Motions. 6 Motions under rule 244(B) were received in National Assembly Secretariat out of which two were disallowed while three were referred to the Standing Committees. The National Assembly also received 74 Questions of Privilege during the year, out of which 2 were disallowed whereas 13 were referred to the standing Committee on Rules of Procedure and Privileges, whereas, 49 were under submission. Parliamentary debate is an essential tool for highlighting the socio-economic issues being faced by the Nation. During the Budget Session, the time consumed by government and opposition was 57 hours and 08 minutes, which was 17 hours 08 minutes in excess of 40 hours allotted for general discussion on Budget. However, the whole Budget passage consumed 81 hours and 33 minutes including the time consumed on the passage of charged Expenditure, presentation and discussion on cut motions and finally the passage of Finance Bill, 2020-21. The passage of Supplementary grants took total 24 hours and 25 minutes. The Members of the Assembly actively participated in the discussion on budget whereas total numbers of 208 including 107 Members from Treasury and 101 Members from Opposition benches spoke on the Budget. Calling Attention Notices, Adjournment Motions and Motions under rule 259 are important Parliamentary tools for oversight and bringing important public matters under discussion in the National Assembly. The Assembly Secretariat received 342 Calling Attention Notices, out of which 79 calling attention notices were brought in the House, however discussion took place on 60 calling attention notices. After thorough discussion, 15 Calling Attention Notices were referred to concerned Committees. Meanwhile, 79 Adjournments were presented in the House out of which 44 were disallowed under the rules and One brought in the House. Taking stock of the COVID-19 situation, the Speaker National Assembly carried out consultation with the Parliamentary Leaders in the National Assembly for forging a joint approach to tackle the Global pandemic. A Parliamentary Committee on Corona virus was constituted as a result of consensus amongst the Parliamentary leadership. Another Special Committee comprising three former Speakers and parliamentary leaders was constituted to discuss and suggest measures to hold virtual session of the National Assembly in wake of the pandemic. This Parliamentary Committee on COVID-19 Disease supervised important policy initiatives like maximum outreach to the people effected by COVID-19 through Ehsaas Programme, continuation of Extended Programme on Immunization, provision of adequate numbers of ventilators and provision of COVID-19 testing kits besides rewarding the medical community who was offering their services at the front line. Speaker Asad Qaiser also focused on welfare of marginalized segments of the society especially disabled persons. In order to intervene at policy and legislation level the first ever Parliamentary Committee on Disabled Persons was constituted which deliberated upon evolving a mechanism to resolve the issues faced by the Persons with Disabilities. Agriculture, being the back bone of the country, was also focused by the Speaker Asad Qaiser. Special Committee on Agriculture Products took a lot of initiatives for the welfare of the farmer’s community. This Committee is still working to suggest reforms and policy intervention in the Agriculture sector and to resolve the problems of Farmers community. Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser especially focused to enhance bilateral trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan. He constituted Executive Committee of Pakistan Afghanistan Parliamentary Friendship Group which held eight meetings and brought the bilateral relations on new heights of cooperation. The seminar “Pak-Afghan Trade an Investment Forum 2020 “was organized by National Assembly Secretariat which proved a success story for enhancing bilateral trade. While expressing his satisfaction over the performance of the National Assembly from 1st January 2020 to 31st December 2020, Speaker Asad Qaiser has remarked that only effective legislation and Parliamentary oversight can resolve all socio-economic issues faced by the country. He said that performance of the National Assembly in 2020 remained remarkable in spite of the grave challenges emerged due to Pandemic of COVID-19 in the world. He said that incumbent government believes in Parliamentary supremacy and the legislators being representative of the people can only offer practical solution through parliamentary initiatives. The Speaker desired that both government and opposition benches should work in collaboration for the welfare of the common people.