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Karachi

March 13, 2018

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PA shelves debate on public interest issues as ministers fail to show up

Eight of the 10 calling-attention notices on different issues of public interest and governance could not be taken up for discussion in the Sindh Assembly on Monday because of the relevant ministers’ absence, much to the chagrin of the opposition lawmakers who had moved them and the speaker.

The notices pertained to the provincial government’s departments of health, local government, women development, excise & taxation and public health engineering. Pakistan Muslim League-Functional MPA Mahtab Akbar Rashdi, who had moved a notice about the health department, castigated the ministers’ absence.

She said the absence of the health minister had become almost habitual, suggesting that the current PA session be prorogued if ministers were unable to attend the sittings. Speaker Agha Siraj Khan Durani expressed his displeasure over ministers not attending the proceedings of the House despite issuance of repeated warnings over their absence.

Shah Jahan Masjid

Culture & Antiquities Minister Syed Sardar Ali Shah informed the PA that his department had written to the Thatta district administration to get possession of the historical Shah Jahan Mosque.

He said this in response to the notice of MPA Syed Amir Haider Shah Sheerazi on the deplorable condition of the mosque. The lawmaker wished to know the steps being taken by the government to restore and maintain the mosque.

The culture minister said that in 2008 the provincial government had prepared a development project of Rs67 million to restore and maintain the mosque, adding that the scheme had been completed in 2016.

Shah said his department had written to the Thatta administration on February 14 this year to get possession of the mosque, adding that under the development project, the work for restoration and maintenance of the mosque had been partially completed.

He said restoration and maintenance of the mosque was an ongoing project, which required a consistent, dedicated and prolonged effort by his department, adding that serious efforts were required to restore the mosque and its garden in a holistic manner.  

Embezzlement

The adjournment motion of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman relating to alleged embezzlement of Rs1.6 billion in procurement of medicines for public hospitals in the province was termed “out of order” by the chair.

Zaman said his motion should not be opposed by the treasury because fake and expired medicines had been purchased for health facilities across the province, adding that his motion had been based on the auditor general’s report on the audit of the government’s accounts.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said the opposition lawmaker should have attached the auditor general’s report with his adjournment motion, without which his allegations were baseless.

Khuhro said the opposition lawmaker had in fact committed contempt of the entire House by levelling baseless allegations against the government, adding that the adjournment motion was not in accordance with the rules of procedure of the provincial legislature.

Rise in salaries

Speaking on a point of order, parliamentary party leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Syed Sardar Ahmed said provincial lawmakers should be provided their due increased salaries along with the arrears.

Ahmed said disbursement of the increased amount of salaries to the members of the House had become due after passage of the relevant bill by the provincial assembly last year in May, as later the governor had also given his assent to the law so that it could attain the status of an act.

He said that if the government was unwilling to pay the increased salaries to the lawmakers, the relevant law should either be abolished or amended by the House.

Responding to the notice, the parliamentary affairs minister said everybody knew well that the PA had passed the bill for increasing the salaries and privileges of lawmakers after a select committee comprising legislators of all the political parties having representation in the House had prepared the draft of the bill. Khuhro said that now the finance department would be written to for paying the increased salaries to lawmakers.

Earlier, newly elected Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Abdul Bari Pitafi, who won the recent by-election for the PS-7 constituency in Ghotki, took the oath of office as member of the provincial legislature. Later, the current Sindh Assembly session that began last month was prorogued.

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