ISLAMABAD: The parliamentarians want to monitor the activities of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in connection with the fight against Covid-19 and provision of relief to people in the wake of the situation developed after the spread of the pandemic in the country.
This was the gist of a meeting of the sub-committee of the Parliamentary Committee on Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) presided over by Minister for Narcotics Control Azam Swati here on Wednesday.
The main purpose of the meeting was to formulate proper and comprehensive terms of reference (ToR) and draft rules of procedure for the main committee constituted by National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser last month on the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan to oversee the arrangements and relief measures being taken by the government to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Sources said the sub-committee had finalised 12 ToR which would be presented to the main committee in its meeting on Thursday (today) for approval.
The sources said that through the proposed ToR, the parliamentarians have suggested that they should be given a “monitoring role viz-a-viz NDMA and relief operations”.
According to the proposed ToR, the members have suggested that the SOPs (standard operating procedures) of the NDMA, which is headed by a serving military man, should also be prepared by the parliamentary committee “to ensure equitable distribution of cash/relief packages to needy avoiding overlapping from various agencies of the federal and provincial governments”.
Besides this, the parliamentary committee will also suggest steps needed to be taken to protect the country’s economy in the wake of ongoing coronavirus crisis. The committee will also take all non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society on board in the distribution of relief amount and goods to the people.
The parliamentary committee will work for the creation and promotion of national harmony between the Centre and federating units, including Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, “for evolving unanimous narrative on the issues related to current pandemic”.
It has been suggested that the meeting of the special parliamentary committee should be held once in a week.
The committee will also suggest the ways and means as to how parliament and its standing committees could perform their functions in the wake of this pandemic.
The parliamentary committee will also ensure mobilisation of all resources at all levels to ensure that the country’s health system keeps functioning effectively. Another responsibility of the parliamentary committee will be “to oversee the testing facilities throughout the country and removal of bureaucratic bottlenecks, if any, in procuring immediate necessary health-related items at all levels”. It will also take measures and steps to ensure and facilitate the role of private health services in regard to Covid-19.
The members of the committee will also be entrusted with the task of identifying and enforcing “immediate innovative steps” at all levels to evolve strategy and mechanism to ensure provision of basic essential edibles to the needy and poor during the ongoing lockdown in the country.
Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2020