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October 30, 2020

Govt’s own members protest rise in 94 medicines prices

Top Story

October 30, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Government came under sharp criticism from its own parliamentarians in the National Assembly for recent increase in prices of 94 medicines, saying that decisions taken by non-elected people were being imposed on masses.

The PTI members including Khawaja Shiraz Mahmood, Noor Alarm Afridi and Riaz Fatyana raised issue of increase in medicines prices on a calling attention notice. "The Parliament should take initiative and decide withdrawal of the decision if it is sovereign," Khawaja Shiraz said. The PML-N parliamentary leader Khawaja Asif later joined the criticism but he fell victim of opposition's own tool of lack of quorum when he had just started criticizing increase in medicines prices. One of members from treasury benches, Attaullah, pointed out lack of quorum and the House was prorogued.

It was for the first time that a Government member in the sitting assembly had pointed out lack of quorum. Khawaja Asif said that Imran Khan now has appointed a doctor of his hospital as adviser to health. Rejecting justification given by the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Muhammad Khan, the mover of the calling attention notice said the prices of medicines have been increased thrice in the last two years. "We are answerable to our voters who question us on price hike," Khawaja Shiraz said. He also advised the Minister of State not to take burden of others as increase in prices was allowed by a non-elected person. Another annoyed member, Noor Alarm Afridi said, “we have been elected on PTI ticket and stand by our leader but it does not mean that we should not speak against injustice as our country and its people come first, then the party," Afridi said.

He also questioned credibility of those appointed at helm of affairs of the Ministry of National Health. He asked the Government to have control on cheaper Indian medicines in the country. Ali Muhammad Khan failed in his three attempts to satisfy his party colleagues. He called for the decision to control black-marketing and make these medicines available in market with controlled prices. He said it was the PML-N’s Government which linked increase in prices of medicines with Consumer Price Index (CPI) and control was shifted from the Government to the pharmaceutical companies. However, the Minister said the present Government took back the control and through a notification, directed the companies to go for one-month request to the Government on which final decision would be taken by the Ministry.

PTI member Riaz Fatyana also observed that prices of medicines have been increased for three times in two years. “That decision should be taken by the elected and not the non-elected people.” He suggested that instead of increasing prices of medicines, the Government should go for zero duty on import of raw material for medicines. Taking the floor, Minister for Science and Technology, Fawad Chaudhary asked the opposition parties to sit with the government for talks on electoral reforms and better future of the country. He, however, said no compromise will be made on their corruption cases. The Minister said it is the right of the opposition to stage protests and criticize the government. “However, they should not target the state.” He regretted the language used against state institutions by the opposition parties during protests.