By News Desk
KARACHI: Prime Minister Imran Khan has insisted that the federal government has no disagreements with any province over the 18th Constitutional Amendment, as it only intends to remove specific “anomalies”.
“Some federal subjects were wrongly devolved to the provinces under the amendment, which will be returned back to the federation—and for that all the provincial governments would be consulted with,” the Prime Minister said in a wide-ranging conversation with senior journalists here on Wednesday.
His delved on the government’s response to the coronavirus as well. The Prime Minister said the National Coordination Committee (NCC) was meeting regularly and it was taking decisions about the measures to contain the Covid-19 contagion in consensus with all the provinces.
He said “since day one” he was against the imposition of a strict lockdown in the country as he was worried about the labour class, particularly the daily wagers. “The government has a double responsibility of taking steps to contain the spread of Covid-19 and at the same time to ensure that the poor segments of society do not face financial challenges.”
Khan said the federal government opted for a “smart lockdown” and eased restrictions for many sectors of economy. “The decision proved fruitful as the smart lockdown had not only slowed down the transmission of the deadly virus but also helped save the economy from a major crisis,” he added.
He said the government has now decided to go for the strict implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs). Smart lockdowns would be imposed in hotspot areas across the country, he said, and regretted that “some elements were playing politics” on the coronavirus. “The federal government had not discriminated with any province in any way, he added.
About the local government system, Khan said the PTI was the only party which believed in the devolution of powers to the local level and its provincial government practically executed the plan in that regard in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2013. He said the local government system was important for the resolution of people’s problems at local level. Under the new system which will be announced by the incumbent government, mayors of cities would be elected directly by the citizens and that would help address the issues being faced by the mega-city of Karachi.
To a question about locusts attacking crops, the Prime Minister said an emergency had been declared in the country since January 31 and the federal government was going all out in eliminating the locust swarms. “The federal government is constantly in contact with neighbouring countries, including Iran and India, and it has taken the provinces on board to devise a strategy for combating the locusts,” he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar said a major chunk of Rs60 billion earmarked for Sindh under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme had been distributed among the needy families. “Some five million deserving families of Sindh will benefit from the cash assistance programme,” she said. “The Prime Minister had issued special instructions to ensure indiscriminate distribution of cash assistance.”
It was decided to distribute the cash assistance on the basis of 2013 census data, according to which the share of Sindh was 22 per cent, which, however, was raised to 31 per cent at the prime minister’s directives.