–PPP chief says federal govt not helping provinces fight locusts despite multiple appeals
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said the government’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year must focus on mitigating the impacts of coronavirus, saying it was the federal government’s responsibility to ensure stability in times of corona.
Talking to a media outlet at Parliament House on Wednesday, the PPP chief said that these were not normal times and it was the responsibility of the government to fight this pandemic as well as assure economic stability.
“We have to focus on the agriculture sector because food security is an issue now for the entire world,” he said, adding that there was no sign of rescue package for the sector despite a government announcement.
The relief package announced by the government is nothing but gimmickry, said Bilawal.
“The government announced Rs12 billion package but when you go into details it shows that all that amount was already budgeted,” he said, adding the government used BISP budget in the name of the Ehsaas programme.
He said that the tax refund to the business community is also made a part of this package which was already due. Wheat procurement has also been made a part of this package. Thus poor and daily wages haven’t received any relief.
He said that the government did not announce any relief for the medical workers who are fighting on the front line.
“Pakistan should also use some percent of GDP for relief like all other countries in the world. We should use the maximum for our front line soldiers. We should protect our medical workers. Instead, Pakistan became the first state that decided that people’s health and life is not its priority.”
The PPP chairperson said that the government cannot absolve itself from its responsibilities just by giving money through the BISP and added that it has to provide relief to our daily wage workers, small traders, white-collar employees, small shopkeepers.
It is unfortunate that Sindh government corona ordinance is not signed yet through which we want to provide relief to the people. This ordinance should be implemented in other provinces as well, he maintained.
“After 25 years locust is threatening us and plant protection is a federal subject but the government is not ready to deal with it,” he said about the potential massive locust threat.
He said that the Sindh chief minister is in contact with the federal government for nearly a year but nothing has been done yet. The Balochistan government and its people were waiting for help against locust, he added.
“We held several press conferences on the issue and just yesterday I addressed a press conference on locust threat and today Raja Pervaiz Ashraf spoke about it in the National Assembly but government has not responded yet. Even the United Nations has issued a warning about locust. The government has to provide relief to the agriculture sector to assure food security,” he added.