The Treasury of the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday successfully completed the quorum in order to get the Forest (Amendment) Bill 2010 – increasing penalties and fines – passed, and amend in the Rules of Procedure regarding pre-budget discussion, as recommended by the Standing Committee on Law and Parliamentary Affairs.
Just prior to the start of the legislation, Opposition's Samina Khawar Hayat pointed out the quorum at 12:45pm, and Deputy Speaker Rana Mashhood Ahmed Khan ordered for head-count, which proved that the House was inquorate. He ordered ringing the bells for five minutes, which made ministers and Treasury members present in the lobby and chambers to rush to the Floor, and consequently, the House was turned into quorate for completing the remaining business comfortably sans any further interruption.
First, Law Minister Rana Sanaullah moved the proposed amendment in the rules of procedure of the Assembly for pre-budget discussion. This was passed unanimously. This rules allows law minister, in consultation with the finance minister, to include in business, the general discussion for seeking members’ proposals January to March each year for the next budget. Moreover, the general discussion on budget proposals will take place for at least four days, and the Assembly can recommend proposals to the govt as finance minister’s resolution after the conclusion of the discussion.
Rana Sana moved the Forest (Amendment) Bill 2010, which was also passed unanimously. The amendments made to increase the penalties and fines.
The statement of objects and reasons maintains that the punishments of fines determined in 1927 under the Forest Act had deterrent effect during that time. But due to gradual inflation, the punishment especially those fines of fines Rs 50 or 500 have become meaningless as per modern day value of our currency.
The penalty of fine required drastic improvement a system of staged penalty has been proposed. A comprehensive definition clause has been proposed to be added in the Act of 1927. The reserved and protected forests cannot be de-notified and except some permissible land uses in the forests, the forest land cannot be used for any other purpose.
The proposed measures ate likely to put on halt the ever-shrinking forest area of a province, which is hardly 3.1 percent of the province – one of the lowest in world. Moreover, according to the amendment if the damage is worth more than one hundred thousand rupees, the fine may extend to ten times value of the damage.
After the passage of the Bill, Opposition felicitated the Treasury.