Cold war? PA once again passes three bills returned by governor

The house is yet to take up another bill sent back by governor related to perks and privileges of former CMs

The Punjab Assembly on Tuesday – once again – passed three bills out of four that were sent back to the house by Governor Balighur Rehman seeking some amendments.

Per the details obtained by the Governor’s House, Baligh sent back four bills to the Punjab Assembly in the public interest while also giving a “rationale” for their rejection.

The bills sent back by the governor include The Punjab Ehsaas Programme Bill 2022, The Punjab Local Government Bill 2021, The Punjab Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Privileges) (Amendment) (Repeal) Bill 2022 and ‘The Urdu Language Bill 2022’.

A tug-of-war is currently going on between the federal and the provincial government these days and it is also affecting the legislative process.

The Punjab government is headed by an alliance of the PTI and the PML-Q while the PML-N is calling the shots at the Centre with the support of its allies. Since Governor is the representative of the federal government and he also has the authority to give a final nod to provincial legislation. However, the Provincial Assembly enjoys the prerogative to pass the legislation again if rejected by the governor.

Giving rationale behind sending back The Punjab Ehsaas Programme Bill 2022, the governor said that an officer not less than the rank of additional secretary from the finance department should be a member of the Ehsaas Council. The legislation is meant to eradicate poverty and provide social protection and therefore, funds will be required by the finance department to run this programme.

“A member of the finance department in the Ehsaas Council would facilitate/streamline the working of the programme,” said the governor, while sending back the said bill to the Punjab Assembly.

Commenting on The Punjab Local Government Bill 2021, the governor said that the provincial assembly has made amendments to Section 10 and 187. “It is not the bill originally passed by the assembly on September 14, 2022 and presented to the governor for assent on September 16,” the governor noted.

Since the bill passed by the Punjab Assembly in its sitting on October 19 includes amendments, it shall be considered to have been passed afresh on the same date and conveyed to the governor the next day, said the documents obtained by the Governor’s House.

Moreover, the governor also sent back The Urdu Language Bill 2022 and The Punjab Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Privileges) (Amendment) (Repeal) Bill 2022.

But the Punjab Assembly once again passed three bills which were earlier sent back by the governor. All these bills were passed on Tuesday in the absence of opposition.

However, the house didn’t take up the bill related to perks and privileges of former chief ministers as it was also sent back by the governor on Tuesday.

Giving his rationale to reject the Punjab Ministers Salaries, Allowances and Privileges (Amendment Repeal) Bill 2022, the governor said that it would entail huge expenditure, which would be a burden on the public exchequer when the said bill becomes the law.

The said bill is meant to provide perks and privileges to former chief ministers. It will be applicable to all those former CMs who became the chief executive of the province after 2002 for at least six months. Adequate security, including two elite police escort vehicles, will also be provided to former CMs as per the bill.

Former CMs will also get five personal staff members and at least two of them will be of grade 17. According to the said bill, former CMs will also get health facilities while also getting accommodation and services at all government rest houses. The bill was returned back by the governor but the House didn’t take up it yet while preempting the public backlash.

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