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Sindh labour dept wants WWF, EOBI devolved

July 24, 2011

KARACHI, July 24: Unhappy with the half granted provincial autonomy, the Sindh government labour department has forwarded a summary to the provincial chief executive against the retention of the Employees Old Age Benefit Institution (EOBI) and the Workers Welfare Fund (WWF) by the federal government.

Sources in the labour department said that various departments of the government in line with the decisions taken recently at a higher provincial forum were preparing their cases for a complete devolution of projects and schemes, offices, departments, activities and assets and liabilities, exactly as required under the 18th constitutional amendment.

The departments through summaries would request the chief minister of Sindh to use the Council of Common Interests (CCI) for due transfer of the departments and activities from the federal government to the provincial government of Sindh, a source told Dawn.

The source said that the chairman of the Sindh government’s commission on implementation of the 18th amendment at a recent meeting had directed the “aggrieved” departments to take necessary measures at the earliest.

The federal cabinet had approved the devolution of health, food and agriculture, labour and manpower, environment, women’s development, sports and minorities affairs ministries on June 28.

Senator Raza Rabbani, the chairman of the federal commission on the implementation of the 18th amendment, had told a press conference on June 30 that the devolution plan might not be an ideal one, but it was an important development towards building the edifice of a provincial autonomy.

According to him, any differences among the provinces and between the provinces and the federal government can be resolved through a dialogue, particularly, at the CCI.

While the federal government had devolved 14 programmes, departments and offices in the labour and manpower sector, it preferred to retain another 22 programmes and offices in the sector by relocating them to information ministry, inter-provincial coordination division and other ministries.

“According to 18th amendment, the subjects included in the concurrent list of power were to be fully transferred to the provinces,” said a Sindh government official.

The Sindh labour department has been handed over the regional centres of workers’ education, situated in Hyderabad, Karachi and Sukkur, and the National Institute of Labour Administration and Training so far. However, a vocational training centre in Kashmore with a PC-1 cost of Rs36 million was yet to be given to the labour department, it was learnt.

Following the constitutional amendment, the labour department of Sindh has completed about 22 drafts legislation of federal acts and rules and got those approved by the chief minister for placing before the provincial assembly in order to avoid hurdles while discharging public duties, the official added.

In the meantime, Labour Secretary Mukhtar H. Soomro told Dawn that the devolution of funds accumulated under various labour accounts — WWF, Workers’ Participation Fund and EOBI — held at the federal government level needed to be transferred to the provinces.

He said that the chief minister was being persuaded to take up the devolution of various funds to the province at the CCI, which was likely to meet within a month or so.

He said that his department was justified in demanding the devolution of the federally-retained EOBI and WWF.

The EOBI head office was located in Karachi, where workers from across the country were employed, and 38 per cent of the EOBI contribution was generated in Sindh. The manpower employed in the EOBI, including officers and officials, after devolution would have no financial implications over the provincial exchequer, he said.

Speaking of the WWF, Mr Soomro said that programme/projects were initiated and executed by the Workers Welfare Board after they were approved by the governing body of the WWF, a tripartite body.

While staff distribution would carry no financial implications, the WWF devolution would directly benefit most workers who arrived here from different parts of the country for a livelihood, he said. The department believed that both the subjects along with other activities stood devolved to the province and an earliest transfer of their funds would help meet the long-cherished demand of the province, he said.