KARACHI: Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab on Saturday objected to the Centre’s slashing of the province’s National Finance Commission (NFC) award in the federal budget 2020-21.
He said that the Rs234 billion reduction would hurt the province’s development. Wahab, addressing a press conference alongside Sindh’s Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah, said, “Provinces receive 80 percent [of their budget] from the federal government […] How will the province develop and how can we pay the salaries of [government employees]?”
Wahab claimed that the Centre “had not” allocated funds for tackling coronavirus and that the government “could only make” a decision of not imposing a lockdown.
“They will blame the provincial chief ministers later on [if they fail to handle the pandemic],” he said, adding: “The federal government does not seem to be helping the provinces in the health sector [….] We got to know that it takes a week for getting tested [for COVID-19] in Islamabad.”
Talking about Hyderabad University, he said that there was not a single rupee allocated for it, while the premier had already inaugurated the varsity.
“No funds were allocated for Tharparkar in the federal budget,” Wahab said, adding that the Centre was not helping the province and that it was attempting to put “obstacles” in its way and “spurring chaos”.
Wahab, speaking about private hospitals overcharging patients, said that the Health Commission would probe the matter and that the Sindh government was “upgrading public hospitals”.
“At Nipa, we will establish a 200-bed facility with 48 ventilators,” Wahab said.
Meanwhile, Shah, addressing the press conference, said that the spread of the coronavirus could have been stemmed had the federal government closed its borders at the initial stage.
“If the people were tested when they came in through the border, we could have controlled the disease […] Sindh has done a lot to save the lives of its people,” Shah claimed.
While praying for PTI lawmaker Khurram Sher Zaman, who has been a strong critic of Sindh’s response to coronavirus, Shah said, “Zaman used to think of this as a joke, may he recover from the illness.”
With the disease continuing to spread at a fast pace in the country, Shah said that he had recommended that a virtual session of the Sindh Assembly be held.
The minister said arrangements to this effect have been made with the assistance of NED University.
Meanwhile, science and technology minister Fawad Chaudhry, while speaking in Geo News programme “Capital Talk”, said that his ministry has all the tools required for such a session and offered to assist the province in this regard.