Multi-party JS body to check ordinances

January 28, 2009

15-member special body to work till standing committees formed; Hasina, Khaleda may sit to decide business before session resumes today; PM to answer lawmakers
Shakhawat Liton
Parliament will constitute a 15-member special committee today to scrutinise the ordinances to be tabled as bills and make recommendations on those. To be comprised of senior lawmakers from different political parties, the committee will be authorised to examine legislative proposals till the standing committees are formed.
Officials at the parliament secretariat said the matter has been included in the orders of the day. The legislature sits at 4:45pm today after a two-day recess.
A total of 122 ordinances promulgated by the immediate past caretaker government were placed before the House Sunday for decision within the next 30 days whether they would be ratified.
Parliament, however, will not have the opportunity to scrutinise merits or legality of all the ordinances. The law minister has already announced that only 45 ordinances would be tabled as bills.
The selection of the 45 on recommendations from an expert committee formed by the government means the executive, not the legislature, is determining the fate of the ordinances.
The ones that will not be introduced as bills will lose validity 30 days after placement in parliament.
Talking to The Daily Star at his office yesterday, Chief Whip Abdus Shahid said if the special committee were not formed, the bills would have to be passed without parliamentary scrutiny.
He said the BNP-led ruling alliance passed over 60 bills without examination by legislators in the last parliament, calling into question the legality of those bills’ passage.
The standing committees on different ministries were formed around two years after the eighth parliament had convened. Still, there was no special committee to work in the meantime.
Shahid said the House will determine the terms of references for the special committee to be formed under section 266 of the Rules of Procedure.
The committee will draw two lawmakers from the main opposition BNP. Prime Minister and Leader of the House Sheikh Hasina has already given directions to that end, said sources in the treasury bench.
Talking to The Daily Star Monday, BNP Vice-president and lawmaker MK Anwar said they welcome the initiative.
Policymakers of both ruling and opposition parties have opposed the caretaker government’s frequent promulgation of the ordinances, some out of necessity and some not.
Apart from the special committee, one or two more committees including the House Committee might be constituted today, parliament secretariat officials said.
PM’S QUESTION-ANSWER
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will reply to queries from the lawmakers at the beginning of today’s sitting for half an hour, a source in the parliament secretariat said citing from the orders of the day.
She is expected to take at least four questions in writing and a number of supplementary questions raised by the lawmakers.
With hers begin the ministerial question-answer sessions in the ninth parliament.
In a parliamentary form of government, question-answer sessions are considered an effective tool to hold the ministers accountable to the legislature.
Meanwhile, the chief whip might today table a thanks-giving motion on the president’s address and begin a discussion on it, parliament secretariat officials said.
BAC MEETING
Before resumption of the House proceedings today, the Business Advisory Committee (Bac) will meet to decide on length of the inaugural session and other businesses.
Leader of the House Sheikh Hasina, Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia and other senior lawmakers, who are members of the committee, have been asked to attend the meeting, parliament secretariat officials said.
Speaker Abdul Hamid will preside over the meeting scheduled to begin at 3:35pm.
Whether BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia will skip the meeting like leaders of the opposition in the past could not yet be known.

Courtesy: thedailystar.net

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