PILDAT flunks NA in 2nd year performance score

  •       NA’s performance declines on all indicators except presence of       PM
  •      27% decrease in passage of govt bills compared to 1st Yea

The second parliamentary year of the 14th National Assembly that concluded in May 2015 has received an overall score of 48 per cent in an evaluation of its performance based on a Framework developed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

The performance of the National Assembly has remained largely stagnant with a marginal decline of just one percentage point from the Average Score of the five-year tenure of the 13th National Assembly when it was received a 49 per cent score.

Except for the attendance of the Prime Minister in the National Assembly sittings, 33 during 2nd year compared to only seven sittings during the first year, the performance of the National Assembly has declined on almost all key indicators of assessment. Compare, however, the prime minister’s attendance in 36 per cent of the sittings with that of the Leader of the Opposition, MNA Syed Khursheed Shah, who attended 78 per cent of the total sittings of the National Assembly during this time.

The 14thNational Assembly has only passed eight Government Bills compared to 11 passed during the first year, registering a 27 per cent decrease even though the Government Bills introduced during the 2nd year, 26, compared to 13 during the first year, saw an increase. The National Assembly’s Legislative Capacity has also declined in the evaluation scores by one percentage point. The Assembly’s legislative capacity has also suffered a significant drop of 75 per cent from the give-year average passage of bills in the 13th National Assembly.

Perhaps owing to lack of passage of any Private Member Bill during the first year of the Assembly, introduction of Private Members Bills during the second year has also seen a 42 per cent decline – 25 Private Members Bills were introduced during the period as compared to 43 during the first year. In comparison, the previous (13th) National Assembly passed, at average, over three Private Members’ Bills every year.

The number of days the 14th National Assembly met has also declined by 12 per cent – 91 sittings in second year compared to 103 in the first year. During both years, each sitting, on average has not lasted more than three hours.

54 per cent fewer Resolutions were passed during this time as compared to the first year – 26 compared to 56 Resolutions passed during the first year.

The weakest aspect of performance is evaluated to be Accountability of the National Assembly, particularly with regards to the monitoring and review of levels of public confidence. Under this aspect, the National Assembly has received a low score of 38 per cent, and has dropped by three percentage points from the five-year average of the 13th National Assembly.

With the National Assembly refusing to publicly share attendance records of the MNAs, the average peak attendance observed for all the sittings of the 2nd Year was 145.68 (43 per cent of the total attendance). As an average of the maximum number of members present for each sitting, this figure shows a rather weak performance of the legislators with regards to regularly attending the sessions of the National Assembly. The Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, which had earlier taken the lead among all Legislatures by live webcasting of its proceedings, has once again, taken the required initiative of making its members attendance available online. Despite a Provincial Legislature setting the standards in public access and transparency, the National Assembly continues to flout the universal standards of openness and transparency in this regard.

The second year of the National Assembly of Pakistan yet again passed without the introduction of any reforms for a meaningful role of MNAs in scrutinising the Federal Budget – one of the key responsibilities assigned by the Constitution. The Assembly, as is the practice, barely went through the motions of passage of the budget in 13 days, without referring the budget to the Standing Committees. The days spent in discussion of budget also declined – 13 from 17 during the first year, registering a 24 per cent decrease.

In the pre-budget phase, however, the National Assembly Standing Committees have begun to slowly but gradually make use of a new instrument of budgetary oversight by reviewing PSDP budgets of their relevant ministries. A total of 41 meetings were held by the National Assembly Standing Committees during the second Parliamentary Year to review the PSDP proposals. Considering there are 30 Standing Committees of the National Assembly related to the Ministries, this averages out to 1.4 meetings per Committee.