Friday December 09, 2022

PTI wants CM to step down over Sindh govt’s COVID-19 ‘failures’

By Our Correspondent
May 08, 2020

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has called for Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah to step down over his government’s alleged failures in dealing with the COVID-19 health emergency.

The party made the demand while talking to the media on Thursday after the opposition in the provincial assembly filed a requisition for convening a special session of the House to discuss the novel coronavirus situation.

Around 50 lawmakers of the PTI, the Muttahida Quami Movement-Pakistan and the Grand Democratic Alliance signed the application that was submitted to the PA secretariat.

The most important feature of the opposition’s application was that it contained a proposed set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) to be followed for the special session of the House.

They said the SOPs would ensure social distancing among the legislators and the staff members of the PA secretariat as well as the required hygienic conditions inside the assembly hall during the session.

‘Unreliable govt’

Talking to the media on the occasion, PTI-backed PA opposition leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi said the opposition had submitted the SOPs for the requisitioned session of the assembly because it could not rely on the provincial government to do so.

Naqvi said the government had been taking too much time to devise the SOPs for businesses and markets to enable the revival of economic activities after the preventive lockdown.

He said the opposition had decided to requisition the session of the PA to let the opinion of the chosen representatives of the public become part of the government’s decision-making process aimed at dealing with the health emergency.

He also said that almost two years had passed since the present House of the assembly had come into existence, but the PA’s standing committees were yet to be properly constituted with the due representation of the opposition lawmakers.

The PTI leader said the situation had become so bad that a meeting of the PA’s standing committee on health could not be convened for the opposition legislators to question the performance of the government in tackling the COVID-19 crisis.

He said the PA was the most appropriate elected forum in Sindh to discuss the policies being formulated and the decisions being made by the provincial government to deal with the health challenge.

He also said the PA speaker had been requested to make the decision to convene the special session immediately, and not to wait for 14 days that were constitutionally available to him.

‘CM must resign’

Also addressing the media on the occasion, PTI lawmaker Khurrum Sher Zaman demanded that the Sindh CM immediately step down over his failure to tackle the coronavirus emergency in the province.

Zaman said that the recent tragic death of Dr Furqan-ul-Haq in Karachi proved that the provincial government had failed to take sufficient measures to develop the public health care system to enable it to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

PTI’s parliamentary party leader in PA Haleem Adil Shaikh said the Sindh government had been constantly subjecting the masses to harassment, fear and serious hardships because of its ill-advised actions during the preventive lockdown. He said the government had completely failed to provide relief to the needy during the lockdown.

The SOPs

According to the SOPs recommended by the opposition for the special PA session, the seating arrangements in the House should ensure a minimum distance of six feet between any

two legislators.

They said that all those entering the assembly premises during the session should be screened for temperature, and that every lawmaker should be provided with a mask and a pair of gloves, but all of them should carry their own hand sanitisers.

They also said that the PA’s agenda should be communicated to the legislators through digital means instead of papers, and that no security guard or extra people should be allowed inside with the lawmakers, except those who have permanent assembly entry passes.

Relief ordinance

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail has rejected the Sindh COVID-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance-2020, stating that certain relief measures contained in the proposed ordinance are beyond the jurisdiction of the provincial government that authored it.

According to sources privy to the affair on Thursday, the governor mainly objected to the portions of the ordinance meant to give relief to low-income groups in the province in the payment of their electricity and gas bills.

The government was said to have been informed about the objections of the governor to the proposed ordinance.

The Sindh cabinet in its meeting held late last month had approved the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance-2020.

The sources say that the governor said in his objections that the government could not offer concessions to the masses in the payment of their electricity and gas bills. Both the electric supply and gas distribution in the country comes under the domain of the federal government.

The ordinance drafted by the Sindh government bars employers in the province from rendering people jobless during the COVID-19 emergency and also to ensure the payment of salaries to the labourers in the province.

The ordinance also carries relief for the masses in terms of concessions in the payment of electricity, gas, and water bills having low billing amounts.

Earlier, Leader of Opposition in Sindh Assembly belonging to PTI Firdous Shamim Naqvi had also announced he would move the court of law against the proposed ordinance, saying that it was beyond the domain of the provincial government.

He had said the ordinance was against the principles of justice as it carried no meaningful relief for the masses.

The opposition leader said the Sindh government as per the law was not empowered to give relief to the masses in the payment of their electricity and gas bills.

Earlier, speaking at a press conference at the Sindh Assembly building’s auditorium, Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had said the governor by not approving the ordinance had been delaying the meaningful effort of the government of the PPP to give relief to the needy people.