KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Wednesday continued discussion on the provincial budget for a fourth consecutive day with members from the treasury and opposition benches mainly lambasting each other’s leaderships.
Though bitter criticism, serious accusations, jibes, claims and counter-claims echoed in the house during the speeches, the proceedings remained smooth and uninterrupted as 20 lawmakers spoke for over six hours without any major interruption by any member as was witnessed during the past three days.
While most of the members from the two sides opted to come down heavily on each other’s parties, only a few referred to the development works and issues of their respective constituencies in the context of the budget.
At the start of the proceedings, Grand Democratic Alliance’s parliamentary party leader Hasnain Mirza expressed his concern over rowdiness from both sides in the house on Tuesday. Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani said that he did not want to say who was right or wrong.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s parliamentary party leader Haleem Adil Sheikh said that every member of the assembly was bound to maintain sanctity of the house.
MMA member raises issue of up to 14-hour-long power outages in metropolis
The parliamentary affairs minister rose to ask for an apology from the opposition members for passing below-the-belt remarks on his party’s female members during the proceedings on Tuesday.
Leader of the Opposition Firdaus Shamim Naqvi requested the treasury and opposition members to remain calm and show tolerance.
He also asked the chair to extend time for debate on the budget so that every member could express their views.
Sindh be paid expenses on three hospitals
Discussing the budget, Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho said that as many as 178 people contracted coronavirus due to distribution of money under the Ehsaas programme.
She said that the provincial government had spent billions of rupees on the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD), National Institute of Child Health (NICH) and Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) which the federal government wanted to take over.
She said that if the centre wanted to take these hospitals under its control, the provincial government should be paid all the expenditures incurred on their uplift.
She also informed the lawmakers that the government was conducting coronavirus test free of cost, adding that each test cost Rs4,000. “Private hospitals are charging over Rs8,000 for the same test,” she added.
Mohammad Hussain Khan of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan bitterly criticised the Pakistan Peoples Party saying it was ruling the province for the past 12 years, but it did nothing for the people.
He said that the provincial government received Rs6,410 billion from the federal government and generated Rs1,771bn during the past 12 years.
Less spending on Karachi
Mr Hussain said that Rs1,804bn had been allocated in the annual development programme during the past 12 years and only Rs150bn was spent in Karachi.
He said that only Rs26bn was earmarked for the ADP schemes in Karachi in the budget 2020-2021.
Syed Abdur Rasheed, the lone member of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, demanded that national policies should be formed for uniform facilities in education and health sectors.
“What have you [PPP] given to Karachi as the people are still facing acute water scarcity, piles of garbage could be seen everywhere and sewerage system has collapsed,” he said.
Criticising the K-Electric for prolonged power suspension, he said that many areas of Karachi were witnessing daily loadshedding up to 14 hours.
He asked the federal government to take action against KE for causing inconvenience to people in this sizzling weather. He asked how students could take online classes without electricity.
MQM-P member Syed Hashim Raza said that his party was the first to support the provincial government after the coronavirus outbreak.
“The health minster should answer if the department had achieved its target,” he said, adding that issues would not be resolved only through replacing the secretary.
Shortage of ventilators
Speaking on the “shortage” of ventilators at hospitals, he said he had received eight calls from his constituents asking him for ventilators but he failed to arrange the same for them.” Unfortunately, four out of eight patients died,” he added.
The MQM-P legislator said that building for burns centre in district Korangi was constructed but the same could not be made functional. “The Sindh government had collected Rs210 billion tax from Karachi but in return it gave nothing,” he said.
GDA’s Nand Kumar said that forced conversion of minorities’ girls continued in Badin, Tharparkar and other parts of the province.
“Our daughters are also being kidnapped and raped but no one paid attention to this serious issue,” he added while asking the treasury to bring in and pass his bill aimed at protection of minorities.
Dr Seema Zia of the PTI said that there was no shelter home for girls in the province. She said that the provincial government could not complete the projects launched in 2011.
Minister for Mines and Minerals Shabbir Bijarani held Prime Minister Imran Khan responsible for the May 22 plane crash in Karachi and asked why the chief executive of Pakistan International Airlines was not removed.
He asked why the plane was declared airworthy when it was “faulty”.
Energy Minister Imtiaz Ahmed Sheikh said locusts attack was a threat to our food security but the federal government was not paying attention to this important issue.
He also underlined the importance of the 18th Amendment and said that those who were talking about its rollback did not even read its provisions.
Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2020