Sindh cabinet approves Rs100m to procure 5,000 coronavirus testing kits

Updated 04 Mar 2020

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CM says so far 53 tests had been conducted, of them two tests turned positive. — AFP
CM says so far 53 tests had been conducted, of them two tests turned positive. — AFP

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah informed his cabinet on Tuesday that he had ordered the purchase of 5,000 coronavirus testing kits and released Rs100 million for adopting preventive measures against the deadly virus in emergency situations.

He was presiding over the cabinet meeting at CM House, which was attended by all provincial ministers, advisers, chief secretary and the provincial secretaries.

CM Shah said when the first coronavirus case was diagnosed he convened a meeting and formed a task force.

“I am holding regular meetings of the task force since then in which all the concerned people, including medical experts, airport and aviation authorities, Federal Investiga­tion Agency, National Database and Registration Authority and World Health Organisation are on board,” he said.

He added so far 53 tests had been conducted, of them two tests turned positive.

The vice chancellors of eight public sector universities in Sindh get another term

He disclosed isolation wards had been established in nine hospitals with 118 beds. Mr Shah added Indus Hospital and Aga Khan University Hospital were helping the provincial government a great deal.

“I have assigned Indus Hospital to look after the entire coronavirus issues right from conducting tests, keeping the patients in isolation and providing them treatment. The Sindh government has given them a Rs100 million grant for the purchase of kits and other necessary equipment,” he said.

The cabinet approved the release of Rs100m to purchase 5,000 testing kits.

Land transfer for China economic zone okayed

The cabinet approved the transfer of 1,530 acres of land located in Deh Gharo’s Dhabeji in Thatta district to the investment department to establish it as the China Economic Zone Dhabeji.

The cabinet fixed the price of per acre of land at 25pc of the market value, which the investment department would pay to the revenue department.

Senior member Board of Revenue and investment secretary briefed the cabinet about the rates and development.

The chief minister said the economic zone would open employment opportunities and bring prosperity to the people of the region in particular.

VCs of eight Sindh universities get another term

The cabinet gave another term to eight vice chancellors of as many public sector universities.

Those given another term are Dr Sarosh Hashmat Lodi of NED University of Engineering and Technology; Dr Aslam Uqaili of Mehran University of Engineering and Technology; Prof Parveen Shah of Shah Abdul Latif University; Prof Bikha Ram Devrajani of Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, Jamshoro; Prof Nisar Siddiqui of Institute of Business Administration Sukkur; Prof Tariq Rafi of Jinnah Sindh Medical University; Dr Faizullah Abbasi of Dawood University of Engineering and Technology and Dr Madad Ali Shah of Benazir Bhutto Shaheed University of Technology and Skill Development, Khairpur.

The cabinet approved a proposal to extend the jurisdiction of Shaikh Ayaz University, Shikarpur under which all degree colleges of Larkana division would be affiliated with the Shaikh Ayaz University.

The degree colleges and law colleges of Larkana division are at present affiliated with the Shah Abdul Latif University (Salu) Khairpur, which falls in Sukkur division.

Now, public and private degree colleges, institutions and law colleges affiliated with Salu would switch over to Shaikh Ayaz University, Shikarpur.

University for Mirpurkhas division

The chief minister was told that a campus of the Sindh University was established in Mirpurkhas in 2009 and it was offering nine bachelor and masters programmes with the enrolment strength of 1,000 students.

Mr Shah said Mirpurkhas division should have a fully fledged university and the campus should be upgraded.

He added Mirpurkhas division had three districts — Mirpurkhas, Tharparkar and Umerkot — with a population of 4.5m and such a population should have a university.

The matter was supported by provincial minister Hari Ram Kishorilal as well as the rest of the cabinet members.

The universities and boards department presented the draft bill of the University of Mirpurkhas Act 2020 and the cabinet approved it after detailed discussion. The cabinet directed the law department to vet the draft law and present it in the assembly.

Tractors scheme to begin soon

Briefing the cabinet, the agriculture department said three phases of tractors purchase on government subsidy had been completed and the fourth phase had come to a halt when the National Accountability Bureau had taken up the issue for an inquiry.

Under the plan, 6,200 tractors would be given on government’s subsidy. The government had released Rs450m to the Sindh Bank for subsidy when phase-IV was halted.

Now NAB had given guidelines under which the cabinet gave its approval to start phase-IV.

The cabinet was told that the balloting of those who had applied for the scheme was made already when the scheme was initially launched.

Wheat procurement plan

The food department briefed the cabinet about its wheat procurement plan for 2019-20. Under the plan, along with a fair distribution of bardana among growers, particularly district-wise procurement target would be fixed on a proportionate basis.

The cabinet also approved purchase of 20pc jute bags and 80pc PP bags. It was also decided that functional flour mills would be allowed to retain wheat stock of 90 days as per their sanctioned/grinding capacity.

The food department proposed for Rs1,400 per 40kg price of wheat. The chief minister said the federal government had fixed Rs1,365 per 40kg support price and it was going to revise it.

He directed the chief secretary to coordinate with the federal government to ensure the centre and the provinces could fix the same minimum support price.

He said the decision for that should be taken in the next four days as harvesting of wheat had already started.

Body formed on proposed water law

The local government department presented the draft of Sindh Water Act 2020 involving the use of ground and surface water for commercial purpose.

The chief minister said groundwater and agriculture water were being dealt with by various departments, thus that task could not be transferred to a single authority at present.

Mr Shah constituted a committee under him and nominated ministers for local government, irrigation, agriculture, and public health engineering and the chief secretary as members.

The committee would review the draft law and would form a separate body to regulate the matters of groundwater.

The culture ministry proposed for giving remuneration or fee to members of the Sindh Board of Film Censors. The cabinet approved different rates for 12 categories, including feature film, feature films produced abroad, feature films imported from abroad, feature films certification for cable TV, renewal of certification for additional period for imported and feature film on video cassette/DVD and others.

Meanwhile, the cabinet approved for de-notification of two additional advocates general and four assistant advocates general.

The cabinet also exempted Dawat-i-Hadiya from the stamp duty, registration fee and town tax on properties gifted to them.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2020