Senate passes State Bank (Amend) Bill with razor-thin margin amid ruckus

43 votes cast in favour, 42 against: ANP senator walks out before voting: Yousaf Raza Gilani, Talha Mehmood, others did not attend  

By: News Desk
Published: 10:49 AM, 28 Jan, 2022
Senate passes State Bank (Amend) Bill with razor-thin margin amid ruckus
Caption: TV grab.
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The Senate on Friday approved the State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill with a razor-thin majority amid pandemonium fueled by Opposition cries of foul and demands for prime minister’s resignation, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

As many as 43 votes were cast in favour of the bill and 42 against it, already passed by the National Assembly.

Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani’s decisive vote proved a catalyst for the government side when the senators exercised their right about the motion to present the bill for approval. As many as 43 votes were polled in motion’s favour while the same number opposed it.

The Senate passed the SBP Act, 1956 [The State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill 2022 after clause-by-clause reading with majority vote amid opposition’s noisy protest.

The bill, tabled by Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Train, was passed through the vote-count. The bill sailed through a majority vote of 43 against 42.

Earlier, the motion on the bill was passed with a tie-breaking vote of Chairman Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani as the both treasury and opposition benches’ votes were 43 each.

The bill, already passed by the National Assembly on January 13, 2022, was aimed at providing for the constitution of the SBP to achieve domestic price stability by regulating the monetary and credit system of Pakistan and, without prejudice to this primary objective.

Earlier, Minister for Finance Shaukat Tarin tabled the SBP Amendment Bill after dillydallying for a while as the numerical strength required for the passage of the bill was not there, giving an opportunity to the opposition to taunt the treasury benches. 

Taking advantage of the situation, Senator Sherry Rehman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) congratulated the opposition, saying the very fact that the government was taking time to table the bill signalled its defeat. “The government should be ashamed of itself; it should resign forthwith. How shameful it is that it has failed to get a single bill passed from the House,” she said it aloud. 

Regretting that never ever in his life had he seen such a disrespect being shown towards the Senate, another PPP senator Farooq H. Naek requested Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to suspend the session.

He was of the opinion that the SBP bill could not be the part of the agenda for a period of one month.   

Members of the opposition parties also kept chanting slogans, tore copies of the bill and even laid siege to chairman Sanjrani's dais to register their protest.  

Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl accused the government of compromising on the country’s economy for the sake of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Senate session was later prorogued until (Monday, January 31). 

Later, it came to light that Awami National Party (ANP) Senator Umar Farooq Kasi had left the Senate hall prior to the voting on the SBP Amendment Bill, thus dealing a decisive blow to the opposition’s bid to foil passage of the bill. 

Other opposition leaders namely Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, Nuzhat Sadiq, Senator Shafiq Tarin and Senator Talha Mehmood were also absent. 

The much-talked-about ‘Dilawar Khan’ group voted in favour of the government-sponsored bill.

 Earlier, the SBP Amendment Bill was included in the eight-point agenda of the Senate meeting, which was issued late Thursday night, at the eleventh hour.  

The SBP bill was related to the autonomy of the State Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditions.

The National Meteorology Institute of Pakistan Bill was also be tabled in the Upper House of the parliament for its approval.

Reporters Waqas Azeem and Usman Khan