RE-The Punjab Assembly which completed its third Parliamentary year on March 31, passed 41 bills in 101 days which cost national exchequer around Rs 287.7 million, much to the dismay of senior Parliamentarians who believe that the cost is too high for the legislation.
Besides its routine business of taking up question hour, privilege and adjournment motions, call attention notices and adopting resolutions, the Assembly passed a total of 41 bills on different subjects, out of which, only 16 were fresh pieces of legislation, and the rest were amendments of earlier Acts.
Out of the total 101 days for which the Assembly remained in session, the number of actual sittings was not more than 72. But strangely enough, the lawmakers also got their allowances for extra 29 days during which no Assembly sitting took place due to two weekly off days (Saturday and Friday) and other holidays.
The legislators received around Rs 97 million from the national exchequer as daily allowance against their 72-day 'performance.
According to the Assembly Rules of Procedure, 1997, a member is entitled to get Rs 2,650 per day as daily allowance at the rate of Rs 5 per kilometer which is calculated by counting the distance between members constituency and the Assembly building, and the resultant figure is multiplied by two.
Three days prior to start of the session and an equal number of days after its adjournment are also counted for the purpose.
Presently, the Assembly comprises 370 members, as one seat is lying vacant due to the resignation of PML-N lady legislator Shumaila Rana.
If the calculation is made keeping in view the actual assembly sittings which are 72, the legislators should not have been paid more than Rs 69.2 million as daily allowance which also includes travelling allowance. But they were paid Rs 28 million extra under this head for doing nothing during the 29 days when the Assembly was not in session, but according to rules, these days are also counted among the Assembly working days.
Apart from this, a member is also entitled to monthly emoluments of Rs 47,000 irrespective of whether the Assembly is in session or not. And when it is in session, each member is paid Rs 2,650 per day as daily allowance.
The Assembly members got around Rs190.8 million as monthly salary during the preceding Parliamentary year besides Rs 97 million as daily allowance, which comes to Rs 287.8 million for 370 members in a year. Even those members, who occasionally come to the Assembly, also got full payment for 101 days, thanks to proxy attendance. If we judge the performance of the Punjab Assembly in 72 days when it actually remained in session, it spent only a few hours on legislation, its primary job. The rest of time was wasted in quarrels on trivial issues which had nothing to do with peoples problems.
It merits mentioning here that drafts of all bills tabled in the Assembly for its adoption are actually prepared by legislation branch of the Law Department; and the concerned Standing Committee of the House, usually comprising 13 members, has nothing much to add into the original draft except changing some comas and full stops. And when a bill is taken up by the Assembly for adoption, the members are only required to say 'Yes or 'No.
The third Parliamentary year was marred by Oppositions boycott, rumpus, and lack of quorum. It was only on few occasions during the preceding year that assembly Question Hour, the most important part of assembly proceedings after legislation, got full one hour. A lot of precious time was consumed on irrelevant point of orders raised by members just for the sake of point scoring.
Privilege motions surpassed adjournment motions and call attention notices, a phenomenon indicative of legislators mind set of preferring personal interest over that of people whom they represent in the House.