By Asim Hussain
ISLAMABAD: Senate Standing Committee on Maritime Affairs considered various amendment bills during its meeting held here on Monday. Chairperson of Senate Body Senator Rubina Khalid chaired the meeting held at Parliament House and also attended by Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi. The Port Qasim Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2021, The Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and The Gwadar Port Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2021 were considered.
The Secretary, Maritime Affairs Committee informed the Committee that only 21 sections of the Port Qasim Authority ACT, 1973 are being amended.
Similarly, only 13 sections of Pakistan National Shipping Corporation Ordinance 1979 are being amended and that only 25 sections of Gwadar Port Authority Ordinance, 2002 were being amended. A detailed discussion between the members of the committee and the Ministry officials took place on whether or not such amendments can take place by law. Senator Maula Bux Chandio, while relying on the Judgment of the Supreme Court of the Mustafa Impex Case, commented that such an amendment violates the Supreme Court’s judgments. The Ministry briefed the committee that no constitutional change is taking place. In addition, the Ministry referred to Article 98 of the constitution, conferring functions on subordinate authorities on the recommendation of the Federal Government, Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) by law.
The Minister, Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, while addressing the concern of the members of the committee on change in the Bill in contrast to the constitution, commented that if the committee members apprehend that any change has been taken in violation of the constitution, it should be pointed out and be submitted in black and white. The officials of the Ministry further explained that the amendments in the Bills are purely for operational purposes and will further improve the revenue generation.
Members of the committee recommended voting on the Bills. Four out of eight committee members opposed the bill, while four members were in favour of the amendments in the Bill. The casting vote was left on the chair to decide.
The Chairperson exercised her casting vote against the Bills. Consequently, the Bills further to amend the Port Qasim Authority Act, 1973 [The Port Qasim Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2021, The Pakistan National Shipping Corporation Ordinance, 1979 (Amendment) Bill, 2021, The Gwadar Port Authority Ordinance, 2002 (Amendment Bill, 2021) were opposed by Majority and did not pass by the Senate Panel stating therein that the authority should remain with the Federal Government and should not be devolved to the Prime Minister or Minister’s concerned. Conflict of interest is always there. There is less chance of corruption/ conflict of interest when decisions are made collectively by the Federal Government, i.e., the Cabinet.
The meeting was attended by Senator Fida Muhammad, Danesh Kumar, Nuzhat Sadiq, Senator Naseema Ehsan, Muhammad Abdul Qadir, Muhammad Akram, Dost Muhammad Khan and Senator Maula Bux Chandio. Senior officials of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice and other attached departments were also in attendance.