Parliament has a rodent problem!


Senate Standing Committee on Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) Chairman Hasil Bizenjo on Monday made a startling revelation, saying rats had badly damaged the sound system of the committee room No 1 of the Parliament House.
The proceedings of the committee, during which a briefing was made on the affairs of the Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI), were affected due to the out-of-order sound system.
The committee, which met at the Parliament House with Senator Hasil Bizenjo in the chair, took exception to the constant absence of Minister for HRD Wajahat Hussain from the committee proceedings and decided to give a final warning to the minister for not attending the meeting for the second consecutive time without informing.
The committee also decided to write a letter to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to take action against the minister concerned. “The prime minister should be informed that the minister was not behaving. It is the second consecutive meeting that the minister did not attend without any prior information,” said Bizenjo.
The committee decided that the prime minister would also be requested to direct finance minister to release matching grants to the EOBI as promised by the prime minister.
The committee chairman directed the secretary to submit proposals and action plan on how to register all labourers with the EOBI. The secretary said the industrialists and business owners avoided registration of all labourers with the EOBI.
“This is collective failure of all authorities that 90 percent of labourers are still not registered. Labour Unions are also non-operational while social security laws are being violated,” HRD Secretary Ahsan Raja said.
He said there was resistance in agriculture, fisheries, coal, mining, and cottage industries against registration of labourers while women and underage child labour sectors were the most neglected.
The committee was informed that the EOBI had total assets of Rs 231 billion while Rs 73.98 billion was annual collection of contribution by the employees. Director-General (Operations) of the EOBI Javed Iqbal said that Rs 10 billion were being spent to release pensions to the employees and their families.
He said if the government did not release matching grants to the EOBI, the institution would have zero balance by year 2030. He informed that the EOBI had paid pensions to the families of 35 martyrs of Karachi factory fire while in total the families of all 295 martyrs would be paid pensions and other benefits.
Earlier, Raja briefed the committee over the subject matter and said action would be taken against those officials who had failed to register all the employees working at the factory that caught fire in Baldia Town.
Javed Iqbal said around 3,000 labourers were working in the factory but the employer had registered only 513 with the EOBI. However, he added that of the 295 fire victims, 254 were registered. He added that pension forms had been issued to the families of all 295 people burnt alive in the incident by the EOBI and all families would be compensated.