Sindh governor gives assent to Covid-19 emergency relief ordinance

Published May 16, 2020
Sources said the provincial government removed the provision of relief in gas and electricity tariff to the people of Sindh after the governor's objections. — Photo courtesy Imran Ismail Twitter
Sources said the provincial government removed the provision of relief in gas and electricity tariff to the people of Sindh after the governor's objections. — Photo courtesy Imran Ismail Twitter

KARACHI: Sindh Governor Imran Ismail on Friday signed the Sindh Covid-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance 2020 after the provincial government amended the draft of the proposed relief following his objection that the Pakistan Peoples Party administration was giving relief in an area which “does not fall within the legislative domain of the provinces”.

A brief statement issued by the Governor House said that the Sindh government had reviewed the ordinance in view of the objections raised by the governor and re-sent it to him on Thursday.

Official sources said that the ordinance, which would be in place from April 2020, addressed a range of relief to middle and lower income group people, who had been hit hard by the coronavirus and subsequent lockdown.

Last week, the strained relations between the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government in the centre and the PPP administration in Sindh in the wake of the coronavirus challenges had suffered another blow when Governor Ismail returned a proposed draft for the ordinance with objections to Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah. The reaction even echoed in a recent National Assembly session, where PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari criticised the PTI government for “becoming hurdle in providing relief to the Sindh people”.

The sources said after the objections from the Sindh governor, the provincial government removed the provision of relief in gas and electricity tariff to the people of the province in the wake of the current economic situation due to the lockdown.

Signs the document after Sindh govt removed clauses relating to relief in gas, electricity bills

Although the governor in a last week letter to the chief minister questioned the Sindh government’s authority on federal subjects, he was mainly critical of the PPP’s proposal for relief on gas and electricity bills for consumers.

“The Sindh cabinet a couple of weeks ago approved the Sindh Covid-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance, 2020 to provide relief to the people and address the challenges emanating from the province-wide lockdown,” said a source. “After its approval, the government claims that the ordinance would provide equal relief to domestic residential and commercial tenants, employees and daily-wage workers; extending deadlines associated with responding to school fees, rent and utility charges, conduct of trial or indictment and extension of the period for performance of duties by a court or an office.”

According to the relief envisaged in the ordinance, no educational institution shall charge more than 80 per cent of the total monthly fees, he said. No employee or worker, he added, shall be laid off, terminated or removed and the employee shall be paid salary by the employers.

The salary amount and the deduction, if necessary, was given in schedule-I of the ordinance, added the source.

“A landlord shall defer or suspend the recovery of rent of the premises for a payable amount as indicated in schedule-III; provided that the same shall not apply in case where the owner is a widow, differently-abled person and senior citizen,” he said while citing draft of the ordinance. “The ordinance suggest up to Rs1 million fine on violation of the government orders or guidelines devised to contain the spread of the virus. Similarly, flats [measuring] up to 800 square yards have been exempted from [paying] water bill while a sizeable discount is offered to other consumers as well.”

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2020

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