Parliament failed to institute accountability mechanism: PILDAT | Pakistan Today

Parliament failed to institute accountability mechanism: PILDAT

Reforms in the budget process and passage of an effective accountability law remain an unfulfilled agenda in the parliament while data about the attendance and performance of individual members is still not available on the new website of the National Assembly.
This was revealed in a report launched by the Pakistan Institute of Legislation Development and Transparency (PILDAT) on a three-year performance analysis of the parliament. Several parliamentarians, journalists and analysts participated in the launching ceremony of the report held at a local hotel on Thursday.
While the current political set-up is criticised the most for allegations of corruption against it, the public representatives in the Parliament of Pakistan have failed to institute an effective accountability mechanism in the country. A bill originally titled ‘Holders of Public Office (Accountability) Bill, 2009’ is before the National Assembly since April 15, 2009. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani in his very first speech in the National Assembly on March 29, 2008, promised to disband the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and create instead an independent Accountability Commission as envisaged in the Charter of Democracy signed by the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leaders. More than three years down the line, this unfulfilled promise is one of the greatest failings of the current parliament which has allowed the Holders of Public Offices (Accountability) Bill 2009 to stay with the National Assembly Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs since its introduction in April 15, 2009, the report said.
The report showed that a lack of initiative on required reforms in the parliament, especially on one of its most crucial powers of control over the purse strings or the country’s budget, remains another major weakness of the parliament. The budget session is considered by many members of parliament (MP) as a mere formality in which MPs do not have a significant role to play. This key reform in the parliamentary budget process, however, remains elusive despite various promises made by the sitting government. The government should, however, be commended for bringing more details on the Defence Budget before the Parliament than ever before. Weak check of the Parliament on crucial areas such as national security and foreign policy remains another area of concern.
The analysis showed that in almost every sector of the legislative activity, the National Assembly witnessed a decrease in performance from that of last year. However, overall the 13th National Assembly of Pakistan has performed significantly better compared to the 12th National Assembly (2002-2007) in terms of legislation passed and the Ordinance to Bills ratio.

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