In a significant move, interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar has established a cabinet committee tasked with crafting laws and suggesting revisions to current legislation. This committee will also determine the alignment of any law with the jurisdiction of the parliament.
The Cabinet Division on Thursday notified the constitution of the Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative Cases (CCLC) – in a move that raises doubts about the intentions of the interim government that does not have any such mandate.
The National Assembly was dissolved on August 10 and the terms of reference of the CCLC gives the impression that the interim government would also review the laws that were recently passed by the last National Assembly.
“The Prime Minister, in terms of rule 17(2) of the Rules of Business 1973 has been pleased to constitute the Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative Cases (CCLC),” read a notification of the Cabinet Division.
The interim government’s mandate is to just run the day to day affairs and take decisions on those economic matters and projects that had been under implementation during the constitutional terms of the previous governments.
The law minister will be the chairman of the cabinet committee and its members include information, planning, religious affairs and information technology ministers.
Among the special invitees is the attorney general for Pakistan, cabinet secretary, law secretary and additional secretary, Prime Minister’s Office.
The CCLC will “examine whether a fresh legislation or amendments in the existing laws are in line with the constitutional scheme, not in violation of any existing law, and falls within the mandate of Parliament,” read the notification.
The cabinet committee of an interim cabinet will decide whether any law falls within the domain of the parliament – which is believed to be the supreme institution of Pakistan’s parliamentary system.
The caretaker PM has also authorized the cabinet body to “examine the contents of fresh legislations, rules as well as amendments to the existing laws, rules, and give its recommendations as to whether the same are in line with the policy of the government and constitutional, legislative scheme,” according to the second term of reference of the CCLC.
Out of the 76 laws passed by the 15th National Assembly, 36 of these legislative pieces were approved without being referred to the relevant standing committees responsible for the respective subjects.
According to the third mandate of the new body, if the CCLC decides to amend the proposal of the sponsoring division, from a policy perspective, and the same is agreed to by the sponsoring division in the CCLC meeting, the amended proposal will be placed before the cabinet for ratification.
In case of disagreement between the sponsoring division and CCLC on a policy matter, the points of view of both shall be placed before the cabinet for a decision.
The PM also constituted two more committees that will deal with the subjects of energy and Chinese investments in Pakistan.
The Cabinet Division notified the Cabinet Committee on Chinese Investment Projects (CCoCIP). The prime minister will chair the body. The committee will review the measures being taken for the security of Chinese nationals working and living in Pakistan.
The committee will also oversee the progress of investment projects executed by Chinese companies and will work to create an enabling environment where Chinese Investment can yield optimal results, read the notification.
It will expeditiously resolve issues faced by the Chinese investors with different government entities.
There is also a China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority whose functions are similar to the terms of reference of the cabinet committee.
Among the committee members is minister for planning, minister for foreign affairs, minister for interior, minister for finance, minister for commerce, industries & production, minister for power, minister for communications, railways & maritime affairs and minister for law.
The premier also set up a Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE), to be headed by the power minister. Its members also include ministers for finance, planning, communications and law.
The notification stated that the CCOE would ensure smooth implementation of energy projects currently underway or in the pipeline, in particular projects falling under the umbrella of the CPEC, well within the timelines stipulated for these plans.
The CCOE will also identify and remove bottlenecks in the expeditious implementation of these projects, according to the decision.
It will identify the flaws and deficiencies of the existing legal and institutional framework governing the energy sector and formulate reform initiatives.
The CCOE will formulate policies and plans on energy conservation –a job that also does not fall within the purview of the caretaker set up.