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June 14, 2020

PPP criticising federal budget without reading it, say PTI leaders

Karachi

June 14, 2020

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders on Saturday said the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the ruling party in Sindh, was not happy with the federal budget because the federal government had given relief to the poor masses and increased taxes only on luxury and imported goods. Haleem Adil Sheikh and Firdous Shamim Naqvi, the PTI’s parliamentary party leader in the Sindh Assembly and the leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly respectively, spoke to a press conference and termed the federal budget peoplefriendly. Sheikh said the PPP was not happy because doublecabin vehicles, imported cigarettes and chocolates had been made more expensive, while cement, petrol, cooking oil, shoes, houses and other commodities of daily use were cheaper. “Imported energy drinks aremade costlier, because poor masses do not need them.

They already have a high energy.” He said the federal government, however, could not announce any increment in the salaries due to financial constraints. He maintained that during the times of the COVID-19 pandemic, whatever relief the federal government was able to announce was a big achievement. Sheikh said that despite being a poor country, Pakistan was giving relief to the people. “The paper for printing Holy Quran has been made cheaper but the cigarette paper has been made costlier,” he added. He said the Sindh Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (SIDCL) had been working for the development of the province but the PPP was not happy with the body because it was installing reverse osmosis (RO) plants in Thar to provide water to the desert’s residents.

“The PPP did mega corruption by installing RO plants in Thar through the Omni Group,” the PTI parliamentary leader alleged. He went on to say that the real East India Company was in fact the Omni Company of 'Uncle Sugar’. According to Sheikh, two things that have been harming the country are the corruption mafia and locusts. He said the PPP was criticising the federal budget without reading it. “They [PPP leaders] should remember that theywould also present a budget in Sindh and we can reply in the same currency.” He stated that the PPP leaders were not ready to listen to him because he spoke the truth. Doctors and paramedics in the province had been protesting for the past few days because no facilities, including safety gears, had been given to them, the PTI leader said, adding that instead of giving funds to the government hospitals in Sindh, the provincial government had given Rs30 million to the Indus Hospital, which was only running eight ventilators. He questioned why that fundwas not provided to the Jinnah PostgraduateMedical Centre and Civil Hospital Karachi. He said the federal government had given Rs13 billion to the hospitals of Sindh and it would run them efficiently so that no patient would commit suicide by jumping from any hospital building. Addressing the criticism against the increment in the defence budget, Sheikh said the defence budget was necessary for the country. “If the country’s defence was not strong today, we would have become another Syria. We will augment our defence system. We sleep soundly because our brave armed forces are there to defend the country”. H e stated the Sindh government had handed 111 health facilities over to nongovernment organisations and therewere no facilities at those hospitals.

The government had given land to the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) for serving the poor, he said, adding that the previous day the AKUH charged a poor patient Rs1.9million for treatment. He appealed to Prince Karim Aga Khan to look into the matter and ensure that the AKUH provided free healthcare facilities to the poor people. Naqvi maintained that the federal government had presented a good tax-free budget despite a very difficult situation. He said many businesses had been given support and many sectors provided immense relief. He added that taxes could give relief to this country from loans and there was a nine per cent deficit in the federal budget. Naqvi said a cut in the defence expenditures was not possible due to the present threats to the country. He asked the opposition tomake its shadow budget. He said the federal government had earmarked Rs13 billion for three big hospitals of Karachi. He also demanded a proper audit of funds for the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases. Not only the politicians but bureaucrats in Pakistan were also corrupt, Naqvi said. He asked who had issued fake domiciles to the people. A lot of peoplemigrated from Karachi to other cities due to law and order problems, he said.

Call for action PTI MNA Aftab Siddiqui has demanded action against private hospitals for charging COVID-19 patientsmillions of rupees. “Private hospitals have turned coronavirus into a business. If hospitals of Sindh had been providing better health facilities, such a situation would not have existed today,” said Siddiqui, who is also the party’s central leader. Instead of improving the condition of government hospitals, the Sindh government has left the people at the mercy of private hospitals, he said. “The city's private hospitals are robbing the people with both hands even in difficult circumstances.” He said the Sindh Healthcare Commission had also gone in isolation as it was yet to take any action against the hospitals. “The government is not taking action against the private hospitals mafia. Private hospitals have also increased the rate of every service by 40 per cent,” he said. Siddiqui said the Sindh government had no strategy to contain coronavirus and deal with the situation created after its spread. Instead of improving performance of its own state-run hospitals, the provincial government was financially supporting private hospitals, he said. “If the Sindh government won't take any action against the private hospital mafia, the situation in Sindh will get worse.” He also demanded that the Sindh government increase the number of beds in the government hospitals as the cases of COVID-19 were increasing at an alarmingly rate. “There is no space left in government hospitals. The emergencies of all the government hospitals are overburdened with patients. But the healthminister is sleeping calmly.” The PTI leader said the Sindh government must improve its health system to copewith the pandemic. Asking the federal government to intervene in the matter, Siddiqui said that if the Sindh government did not take action against the private hospital mafia, the PTI would start a protest campaign against the private hospitals, the Sindh government and their supporters.