Rabbani wants Senate to have financial legislative powers

ISLAMABAD: Former Senate Speaker and prominent Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Raza Rabbani called for all presidential ordinances and bills, including those relating to money matters, to be tabled in both chambers of the Parliament.

Currently, only the National Assembly can adopt and approve laws relating to monetary and financial matters, and the Senate is constitutionally excluded from such a legislative process; these ordinances and bills can only be presented to the National Assembly.

Rabbani wants the Senate to have powers like those of the National Assembly. He proposed an amendment to article 89 of the Constitution to this effect. The Standing Senate Committee on Law and Justice will consider the bill on October 6. He wanted the President to record the reasons for the publication of an ordinance, which should be part of his preamble.

The statement of objects and reasons specifies that it is a cardinal principle of representative democracy that the legislation relating to and dealing with the levying of taxes and all ancillary questions, more particularly a budget bill as defined in l article 73, must be passed by parliament rather than by the promulgation of an ordinance. When the Constitution is viewed in a holistic manner, Article 89 must be brought into harmony with Articles 73 [procedure with respect to money bills] and 77 [tax to be levied by law only], it says.

The bill seeks to omit paragraph 2 (a) (i) of Article 89, which stipulates that any ordinance shall be deposited “(i) in the National Assembly if it contains provisions dealing with all or part of the matters specified in Article 73 (2), and is revoked upon the expiration of a period of 120 days from its promulgation or, if before the expiration of this period a resolution disapproving it is adopted by the National Assembly, when adopting this resolution.

The bill removes the existing article which says that each ordinance will be filed in both chambers and will be repealed upon the expiration of 120 days from its promulgation or, if before the expiration of this period a resolution disapproving it is adopted by one or the other of the chambers, on the adoption of this resolution, but asks for the deletion of the words [if the ordinance] “does not contain provisions dealing with” money or financial matters.

He therefore recommends that all ordinances and bills, ordinary or relating to money matters, including the federal budget, be tabled both in the Senate and the National Assembly.

Section 68 deals with the powers of the president to issue ordinances. He says that the President may, except when the Senate or the National Assembly is in session, if he is satisfied that there are circumstances which make it necessary to take immediate action, take and promulgate an ordinance according to the circumstances. An ordinance will have the same force and effect as an Act of Parliament and will be subject to the same restrictions as the power of Parliament to make laws.

The National Assembly or the Senate may, by a resolution, extend an ordinance for a further period of 120 days and it will be repealed at the expiration of the extended period, or if before the expiration of this period a resolution disapproving it is adopted by a chamber, upon adoption of this resolution. However, the extension for a new period can only be done once; and can be withdrawn at any time by the president.

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