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KARACHI: The ruling PPP government on Thursday deferred consideration of the Sindh Public-Private Partnership (Amendment) Bill, 2018, for another day when opposition benches, led by MQM’s Syed Sardar Ahmad, opposed carrying out legislation in a hurry and advised the government to refer it to the standing committee concerned.

This attitude, he said, would again compel the government to amend the law as the house was already in the process of amending the Sindh Public-Private Partnership Act, 2010.

The government has decided to set up a project support facility which will consider all public-private partnership projects first and if any project is approved by it, it will be considered for support by “Viability Gap Fund” (VGF) which will function until January 1, 2022.

Mr Ahmad was of the opinion that as a number of amendments had been made to the 2010 act, it would be sensible for the assembly to deliberate properly over the amendment bill before passing it.

Occupation of park by land grabbers in Khairpur highlighted

He favoured the public-private partnerships, saying it was a good working condition to get investment from the private sector where the government was unable to carry out projects on its own.

“The VGF, which began its operation in 2008-9, has made investments of Rs26 billion till June 30, 2016 in different projects. Its expenditure was Rs4bn while it has made profit of Rs5bn.

“The expenditures and profits were not shown in the budget which should have been shown according to the law,” the MQM leader said.

Sindh Senior Minister Nisar Khuhro said the act which was passed in 2010 helped them realise Thar coal development project and the roads between Karachi and Thatta, and Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas.

The act was reviewed so that the pace of work could be improved and the projects would be implemented with more efficiency.

Samar Ali Khan of the PTI said Aman Foundation ambulances were being run successfully under the public-private partnership and backed the proposal for referring the bill to the standing committee.

Leader of the Opposition, Khawaja Izharul Hassan said Mr Khuhro was not aware of Rs120bn investments in different projects on which Rs25bn were earned as profit. He added that ‘black deeds’ of the last seven years were being cleaned through 64 amendments in the bill to fulfil “someone’s’ wishes”.

Mr Khuhro said most of the projects were under implementation, therefore, no question arose of reflecting profits in the budget.

“The Hyderabad-Mirpurkhas road is however operational where the toll tax is being charged by the investor but its return is not shown in the budget due to terms of the contract to encourage investment.

“The bill cannot be referred to the standing committee as it failed in the past to submit its report so much so that the bill was recalled and the entire house was turned into a committee for considering the bill,” Mr Khuhro added.

Nusrat Abbasi of the PML-F raised the issue of Sindh Secretariat fire, where official record was burnt. She was opposed by Mr Khuhro who said investigation was in process.

Earlier, Ms Abbasi said seven acres of land in Khairpur, which was allotted to the IBA and Bilawal Zardari Park, was occupied by land-grabbers belonging to the PPP, who had set up a residential society there.

In reply, Mr Khuhro said anti-encroachment force of the Board of Revenue had recovered enough land from encroachers, including 1,000 flats, in Gulshan-i-Maymar Karachi.

“The case of Khairpur is referred to the authorities concerned which will soon recover the land and remove the housing society,” he added.

Qamar Abbas of the MQM drew attention of the house towards encroachment on the land of bus stand in PIB Colony. In reply, Minister for Local Bodies Jam Khan Shoro said though it was the responsibility of the mayor, the KMC had asked for a week to remove the encroachment.

In response to the notice of Ameer Haider Shah of the PML-N who complained about closing of water in Mirpur Sakro canals forcing the cultivators of Thatta district to migrate, Mr Khuhro said the Chashma Canal had been opened and there was acute water shortage downstream Kotri.

“This issue was discussed in the house a few days ago,” he said.

Dr Rafique Bhanban of the PML-F complained about unavailability of dog and snake bite vaccines at Faiz Ganj District Hospital. Health Minister Dr Sikandar Mandhro negated it.

Mr Khuhro tabled another bill — The Ziauddin University (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which was about modernising the concept of deliverance of higher education. The opposition leader drew attention of the house that it was a private bill and it could only be introduced by a private member. The bill was then re-introduced by Dr Sohrab Sarki of the PPP.

The assembly then closed the proceedings until Friday morning.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2018