National Assembly session lasts 12 minutes, prorogued indefinitely
National Assembly session lasts 12 minutes, prorogued indefinitely
Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri presides over a session of the National Assembly on Friday. — Photo via NA Twitter

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s session on Friday lasted only 12 minutes before being prorogued for an indefinite period, leaving the fate of the recently tabled controversial Finance Supplementary Bill 2021 hanging in the balance.

However, the government believes that the bill would be passed smoothly with a simple majority in the next session of the house to be commenced in the middle of January.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the bill had been sent to the Senate to meet the constitutional obligation of sending the bill to the upper house for seeking recommendations within 14 days of the tabling of the bill in the National Assembly.

It has been learnt that backdoor negotiations are in progress between the government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to convince the lender that the government was meeting its condition of getting Finance Supplementary Bill 2021 and granting autonomy to the State Bank of Pakistan and both the bills would be passed either before or after IMF meeting on Jan 12 in which $1 billion tranche for Pakistan is likely to be approved.

Govt confident of getting Finance Supplementary Bill passed in next sitting

The National Assembly session, presided over by Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, was suspended for a few minutes when an opposition member pointed out lack of quorum. Later, due to low attendance of the members, the session was prorogued for an indefinite period.

Sources in the National Asse­mbly Secretariat said it was unprecedented that a day after tabling an important bill, the assembly session was prorogued without deciding the fate of the bill.

A sources in the government allies told Dawn that two main coalition partners of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) were unhappy over the Finance Supplementary Bill 2021 popularly known as mini-budget.

However, when contacted, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said both allies had approved the bill in a special cabinet meeting on Wednesday. “The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement have two ministers each in the cabinet and they have approved the bill.”

He rejected the impression that the fate of the bill was hanging in balance and said it would be passed in the next session of the NA to be held in the mid of January.

He said it was mandatory under the constitution to send the bill to the Senate for seeking recommendations and that was why the bill had been transmitted to the upper house.

The minister said the bill would be passed by the NA in the mid of January and the IMF had been asked to reschedule its meeting, which was to be held on Jan 12.

It has also been learnt that President Dr Arif Alvi will summon a fresh session of the Senate next week.

Talking to Dawn, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan said under Article 89 of the Constitution the bill was to be sent to the Senate within 14 days of its tabling in the NA and recommendations of the Senate would be incorporated or rejected at the time of the passage of the bill in the NA.

He also expressed hope that the government would get the bill passed in the next session of the NA with simple majority.

Mr Awan said when the bill was introduced in the NA on Wednesday, attendance of the opposition members was quite low as compared to the treasury benchers. “We will also show majority in the house when the bill be passed in the next session.”

Replying to a question, the PM’s adviser said the NA’s next session should be called on Jan 10.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday presided over a special meeting of the federal cabinet which approved Finance Supplementary Bill 2021 which was later introduced in the National Assembly by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin.

Later, the prime minister chaired a meeting of the PTI parliamentary party where the finance minister apprised the participants of the bill and also addressed their concerns about the amendments to the State Bank Act.

The meeting of the parliamentary party was attended by the cabinet members and other members of the parliament, including government allies.

On the other hand, the opposition which protested against the tabling of the bill in the NA on Thursday, continued to slam the government on Friday for introducing what it called the mini-budget and believed that the bill would further increase food inflation in the country.

The opposition alleged that the government was going to give the keys of the central bank to the IMF.

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