Covid poses threat to normal holding of NA budget session.

Byline: Syed Irfan Raza

ISLAMABAD -- The coronavirus pandemic is likely to create a constitutional crisis for the country as the first meeting of a special parliamentary committee will on Tuesday decide how the National Assembly's budget session will be conducted in the wake of the outbreak.

The task seems to be a difficult one amid reports that two staff members of the Parliament House have tested positive for Covid-19.

The Parliament House building was closed for three days (Friday to Sunday) as a precautionary measure after the two staff members became victims of the virus.

Conducting a budget session to pass the finance bill is a constitutional requirement and it cannot be passed when the National Assembly is not in session.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government - whose tenure was scheduled to end on May 31, 2018 - presented its last budget in April, two months ahead of its schedule. But the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) after coming into power made some amendments in the process of the budget's presentation.

According to a notification of the National Assembly Secretariat, the first meeting of the Special Committee on Virtual Session of the National Assembly during the coronavirus pandemic will be held at 3:30pm on April 21 in the committee room No. 2 in Parliament House.

The committee is headed by Minister for National Food Security Fakhar Imam while its members are Ministers Dr Fehmida Mirza, Ali Muhammad Khan and Aminul Haq, Adviser to the PM on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan, PTI's chief whip Aamir Dogar, Ayaz Sadiq, Shahida Akhtar Ali and Syed Naveed Qamar.

Parliamentary committee meets tomorrow to discuss the issue

The committee has been mandated to suggest amendments in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007, if any, for holding virtual session of the assembly during the coronavirus pandemic; to make recommendations for detailed working to hold virtual session of the assembly; to make other recommendations; and to present a report to the speaker at the earliest.

A source told Dawn that the Parliament House would be reopened on Monday (today) for routine work and for holding meetings of special and standing committees.

It has been learnt that the special...

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