ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led federal government on Tuesday offered opposition parties in the National Assembly to join hands in sorting out electricity related issues including over-billing, power cuts, low voltage etc.

The opposition lawmakers, speaking on a resolution over excessive billing of electricity, came down hard on the government for failing to manage electricity related issues despite making tall claims.

“I invite all parliamentary political parties to sit with me and my staff to amicably resolve the issues of excessive billing, power outages, low voltage etc,” said Minister of State for Power Abid Sher Ali, while responding to the concerns raised by the opposition lawmakers.

Ali also rushed to comment that the opposition parties would also have to admit about wrongdoings in their areas. “I am ready to discuss all issues with the opposition but you will also have to accept the misappropriations in your concerned constituencies,” said the minister.

The minister further said that a mobile meter-reading system had been introduced in different areas across the country to check over-billing.

Pakistan People’s Party’s member Abul Sattar Bachani pointed out that the issues of fake meter-reading, shortage of transformers and power outages need to be resolved.

Awami National Party’s Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour invited the minister of state for power to spend some days in his area to observe the power outages situation. Other opposition MNAs also raised the concerns over the power outages issue.

Criminal law bill introduce:

The House on a private member’s day with a thin presence passed ‘The Criminal Law (amendment), Bill’ with an aim to introduce punishment over cheque fraud.

The statement of objects and reasons of the bill said, “It is necessary to provide more effective punishment proportionate to the amount of cheque so that section 489F should remain an effective measure to establish financial discipline and fulfillment of financial liabilities as the civil claims are not a suitable remedy.”

A clause ‘dishonestly issuing a cheque’ proposed that penalty will be imposed for dishonestly issuing a cheque.

“If the amount mentioned in the cheque is less than ten hundred thousand with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years.”

Another clause about dishonesty in issuing cheque says,“ If the amount mentioned in the cheque is more than ten hundred thousand but less than fifty hundred rupees with imprisonment of either description for a term, which may extend to five years,”.

The bill further says, “If the amount mentioned in the cheque is more than 10 million rupees with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years.”

The criminal law amendment bill, 2014 passed:

The House passed ‘The Criminal Law (amendment) Bill, 2014’ to impose punishment for theft.

A clause ‘punishment for theft’ says, “ if the subject matter of theft shall be valued less than rupees one hundred thousand, with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years’.

Another clause says, “If the subject matter of theft valued more than one hundred thousand but less than rupees five hundred thousand, with imprisonment which may extend to seven years.”

Another clause says, “If the subject matter of theft valued more than ten million and more with life imprisonment or fine which shall be not less than double of the value of such subject matter of theft,”.

The statement of objects and reasons of the bill said, “It is necessary to introduce a system of punishment with quantum and financial implication of the offence so that it may be creating an effective deterrent as well as make theft a non-beneficial activity.”

MQM faces criticism over bill regarding NFC award:

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) faced criticism over its bill regarding amendment in the NFC award formula. The government although referred the ‘The Constitution (amendment) Bill, 2017’ about NFC award formula to the committee, the opposition parties including the PPP and the Jamaat-e-Islami strongly opposed it.

The ‘statement of objects and reasons’ of the bill proposes, “ It will be equitable and in all fairness and interest of the public that such amount shall be distributed in the division as per same formula and manner as agreed between the Federation and provinces in the NFC agreement in the form of NFC award.”

HBL's closure issue in New York

Parliamentary Secretary for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal responding to a call-attention notice informed the House that a committee has been set up after the HBL decided to close its branch in New York.     

“A committee headed by deputy governor State Bank of Pakistan has been established to improve the operations of foreign branches of Pakistani banks as per the international standards,” he said.

The House also passed a resolution urging the government to take steps to control the manufacturing of spurious drugs in the country.

Another resolution urging the government to restore educational increment of all federal government employees was also passed.

The House adopted a resolution asking the government to take steps to do away with gas load-shedding.