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Friday October 22, 2021

The cost of a desk

September 20, 2021

According to an issue originally unveiled by Transparency International Pakistan which wrote to the Sindh chief minister about the purchase of school desks meant for two children in a classroom at the exorbitant cost of Rs29,500 per desk, the Sindh education ministry has spent an amount 320 percent higher than what should normally have been spent on the purchase of these desks. The matter has been taken up by the political opposition led by the PTI in the Sindh Assembly, with demands that the Sindh government tackle the problem. The desks are normally available in the market at between Rs5500 and Rs6800 per desk. Two years ago, they were bought at around these prices and obviously inflation can in no way justify a purchase at a cost that is so many times higher. Sindh Minister Saeed Ghani has denied wrongdoing in the purchase of school desks and said a central procurement committee was currently purchasing furniture for schools. He has asked the opposition members to prove the charges made.

The Sindh government and Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah need to take note of the problem. In the first place, we have reports from reputable organisations about the poor standards at Sindh schools. At the same time, we have issues such as the ridiculous price of the school desks. The opposition is correct in taking up the matter and we hope that the Sindh government will act quickly with the chief minister taking action to resolve it before further loss of any kind is caused. The purchase of the desks and the prices at which there was an attempt to buy them shows how the state fails its people. This is the way people suffer. Now that we have a concrete example at hand, we need explanations from the officials involved and from Sindh ministers themselves. There has to be some degree of government responsibility for what is going on. Indeed, the Sindh government must act swiftly to get to the bottom of this issue.