–Proposal seeks adoption of 20pc of Senate’s recommendations on money bills
ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Monday rejected a motion to present a bill proposing a constitutional amendment to the National Finance Commission Award, which earmarks a certain portion of resources for provinces.
The bill was proposed by Senator Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif, which gained 17 votes in favour while 25 against it to be tabled before the House.
The ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, its ally Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, Balochistan Awami Party voted in favour of the bill.
Meanwhile, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) voted against it. Likewise, more political parties in the opposition such as Balochistan National party-Mengal and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, National Party were against as well.
Barrister Saif, who presented the motion before the Upper House, said that the expenses of the Centre were rising yet its share from the award had decreased.
He said that most of the Centre’s budget goes to provinces, adding that provinces should get funds only as per their needs.
Saif emphasised that the NFC Award issue should be discussed in the House and a committee session should be summoned, comprising all the Senators.
“For us also the Constitution is as holy (as for others)… Why are they scared of discussing the matter?” he said.
He said that the Centre wants a just division of resources so that no one’s rights are infringed. He added that under the Award, provinces get more funds than less as assumed.
The Senate chairman proposed that if the Head of the Senate and the Opposition Leader in the House agree, then the bill can be taken to a committee of the entire Senate.
Senator Sherry Rehman slammed the bill, saying that the Parliament is under attack from the treasury benches.
“They want to change the relationship between the Centre and provinces quite tactfully,” she said.
Rehman alleged that the government and the ruling party does not realize that provinces are running the country.
“Punjab and Sindh exceed the target (when it comes to) tax collection,” she said, adding that the provinces provide ‘salaries’ to the government as well.
The Senator said that all the political parties and provinces had approved the NFC Award in unison, calling the bill an “attack on the rights of the people and democracy”.
Meanwhile, another bill was presented in the Senate proposing a constitutional amendment to declare as mandatory the adoption of at least 20 percent recommendations suggested by the Upper House on the money bills forwarded to the National Assembly.
A total of 17 MPs endorsed the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2020, seeking an amendment in Article 73 of the Constitution, regarding the procedure to deal with a money bill.
According to Article 73 (1A): “After the bill, which can only originate in the National Assembly, has been passed by the Assembly, with or without incorporating the recommendations of the Senate, it is presented to the President, who shall give assent in 10 days.”
The proposal has sought amendment in the aforementioned article, proposing to amend the rule. “Provided that at least twenty percent of the total recommendations made by the Senate shall be incorporated in the bill,” the proposed amendment states.
Adviser to Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan assured the MPs that the government would consider their recommendations.