Rules may be amended to pave way for PM’s Hour in National Assembly

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan and National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser on Monday discussed amending rules in order to ensure the former could respond to questions on different government matters in the house every fortnight.

The speaker during the meeting also apprised the prime minister about the expenses incurred by the NA.

The meeting discussed how the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly-2007 could be amended so that the prime minister could reply to the queries of the opposition in the house during what is called ‘Prime Minister’s Hour’.

In 2012, the rules of the Senate were amended under which one hour was allocated for the prime minister to give reply to the questions.

Rule 61 of the Senate says: “The prime minister shall whenever possible personally respond to points raised by members whenever he is present in the house. However, the prime minister shall attend the Prime Minister’s Zero Hour at least once in each week when the Senate is in session.”

Talking to Dawn, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said although the prime minister could speak on the floor of the NA any time, necessary amendment to rules was required to allocate Prime Minister’s Hour once in a fortnight.

Besides, the prime minister at another meeting reiterated his commitment to build five million housing units at affordable prices without removing Kutchi Abadis in urban areas.

“Construction of low-cost and affordable five million houses is the foremost priority of the government which would not only address housing issues of the people especially in the major cities but would also promote economic growth and create job opportunities,” the prime minister said while presiding over a meeting.

“Simultaneously, we have to devise a comprehensive mechanism for regulating Kutchi Abadis and slums without dislocating poor people and ensuring provision of all civic amenities to the people in those areas,” he added.

Yaqoob Izhar, Najeeb Haroon, Arshad Dad, Housing and Works Secretary Dr Imran Zeb Khan, Law Secretary retired Justice Abdul Shakoor Paracha and other senior officers attended the meeting.

During the meeting the prime minister, after a detailed discussion on various international models and road-map for addressing the issue of housing, formed a committee under housing and works secretary to devise a comprehensive and coherent plan of action, in consultation with relevant experts and representatives of concerned departments, taking into account all aspects including the legal framework, availability of the land bank and raising of required resources for smooth implementation of the project.

The committee would submit its initial recommendations to the prime minister within one week.

Mr Khan emphasised that the private sector should be encouraged and maximum facilitation be extended to those who would be partnering with the government in the implementation of ‘5 Million Housing Programme’.

Curbing Hawala / Hundi

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Khan formed a committee headed by Attorney General Anwar Mansoor to make necessary laws to curb smuggling and illegal channels of money transfer from and to Pakistan called Hawala and Hundi.

The committee will submit its report within a week.

During a meeting attended by Finance Minister Asad Umer, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi, advisers to the PM Ishrat Husain, Mirza Shahzad Akbar, Naeemul Haq and senior officials of State Bank of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue and the ministry of commerce, Imran Khan was informed that smuggling and illegal banking channels were giving a huge loss to the economy as the government did not get any revenue and taxes under such illegal businesses.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2018

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