PTI's Firdous Naqvi to challenge Sindh's COVID-19 Ordinance in court

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KARACHI: PTI's Firdous Shamim Naqvi on Wednesday announced he would challenge Sindh government's COVID-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance, 2020 — approved in the provincial cabinet on April 27 — in court.

Raising tensions between Sindh and the Centre, the leader of Opposition in the provincial assembly said he "strongly condemned" the ordinance aimed at providing relief to people hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

It is important to note that the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance, 2020, mandates a 20% reduction in school fees, protection of employees against mass layoffs, and offers relief in utility bills.

Naqvi's remarks come a day after his fellow party member, Khurrum Sher Zaman, ratcheted up the tensions with the Sindh government and called for the resignation of Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho.

'80% of the federation will be affected'

"I'm seeing such legislation, without any thought or planning whatsoever, for the first time," the PTI leader said. "This ordinance is against the principles of justice. It's just to garner praise. It will be very difficult to implement."

The provincial government, the ruling party's leader added, did not have the legal authority to provide concession in utility bills. "How can this [Sindh] government make decisions on institutions that come under the federal government?"

Related: PTI's Zaman ratchets up tensions, calls for Sindh health minister's resignation

Naqvi further claimed that 80% of the federation would be affected by the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance and the government of Sindh was taking credit for it. "How will institutions pay their employees if they do not make earnings during the lockdown?"

'Embarrassment to the govt'

"Saeen sarkar has learnt to say 'Ya Hussain' on other's assets from Asif Ali Zardari," the PTI leader added, mocking the Sindh government. 

A day prior, Zaman, the PTI leader, had claimed that incidents at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and Dr Ruth K. M. Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi were "sources of embarrassment to the government".

"We're continuously telling the government of Sindh not to spread fear among the people," he commented, adding that the province's biggest hospitals did not have facilities to treat people. "Every patient is being categorised as a corona patient," he alleged but did not provide any basis for his claim.

'Under guise of 18th Amendment'

"The government of Sindh has forgotten its responsibilities under the guise of the 18th Amendment," the PTI leader said, noting that a health emergency should be declared in Sindh and the relevant minister — Dr Pechuho — removed.

On Monday, the Sindh cabinet approved the provincial government's COVID-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance, 2020, according to which there would be a 20% reduction in school fees and no employee could be fired from their job.

Also read: Sindh Cabinet approves COVID-19 Emergency Relief Ordinance 2020

The Ordinance also mandated that the salaries of those employed in the private sector were paid in a timely fashion and that income slabs would be notified.

Some relief was provided in electricity bills as well as a significant one on the monthly water bills for residential areas. The ordinance also provided for discounts on gas consumption and house rent.