Sunday Jul 05, 2020
ISLAMABAD: President Arif Alvi has said the 18th amendment which gives power to the provinces, a law and just like any other law, can be reviewed and changed.
The president was speaking in an interview for Geo News' programme Geo Parliament on Sunday where he that said that talks between the federal government and provinces have taken place on the issue between the federation and provinces.
"Gradually as our economy improves, which is under pressure from the coronavirus as well, an agreement will be reached [between Centre and provinces] on which province should get what slice of the cake," he added. "When the situation is 'tight', then disagreements on distribution of income take place even in a household or a family."
“There are always disagreements and differences between the government and the provinces. These have been there since independence. The 18th amendment is a law and just like any other law, it can be reviewed and changed,” he said, adding that the move should be done with harmony.
In response to the Sindh government's decision to not collect withholding tax for the Centre, President Alvi said that the strained economy was to blame for the issues between the federal government and provinces.
“There has never been a discussion to shelve the issues of Sindh government,” the president said.
When asked about the recent sugar and wheat scandals that had come to light, the president said that corruption had always been present in the country. He said that if the incumbent government had let corruption continue as it been allowed to fester previously, then all the institutions would end up with the same fate as the Pakistan Steel Mills.
“Reports of investigations [sugar, wheat] along with reports of the last four plane crashes had never been presented [before]. The government opened the investigation [into PIA] knowing its cost. I believe those responsible should be removed. Heads should be removed,” he added.
Responding to a question about reports of pressure on the bureaucracy amid investigations by NAB, President Alvi said there were only five cases against bureaucrats out of the 1,300 cases in total being probe by the anti-graft body.
“NAB’s laws are satisfactory and those who have an issue with them can file a petition against the Bureau,” he said, adding that investigations should be done into the Malam Jabba, Billion Tree, BRT and other plans as well.
When asked why Jahangir Tareen Khan, a senior PTI leader and one of the accused in the sugar scandal had left the country, President Alvi said the government had not sent him abroad. “I think he will come back and defend himself,” he said.
Talking about the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and precautions needed to stem it spreads as the country gears up to celebrate Eid-ul-Azha, the president said there should be an ijtemai sacrifice.
The president said that one must be clear that the coronavirus does not spread from animals. He said that if social gatherings are held during Eid-ul-Azha, then the risk of the spread of the infection will be high.
He added the government had come up with policies for Eid-ul-Azha just like it had done so at the time of Eid-ul-Fitr. “I have recommended that provinces not establish cattle markets and if they do, then they [markets] should be away from the city,” the president added.
The president said that he needed the ulema and media's cooperation in ensuring social distancing and other measures for Eid-ul-Azha to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
President Alvi said that Pakistan's broadband internet access is not available to many students. However, he said that the "real destination" of knowledge is online. "The work that we will accomplish in 20 years in real life, we can do the same in one year in virtual learning," he added.
Alvi said that the reopening of schools and colleges with restrictions and COVID-19 SOPs will be linked to the coronavirus graph. He said that it was a huge success for the government that it had 'managed' the coronavirus situation.
"Even the headlines in your talkshows have diverted from coronavirus to minus one and other things," he said, adding that the crisis had declined to a certain extent due to which the media had lessened its focus on it.
The president said that the government will have to wait till Eid-ul-Azha and after that to reopen schools and colleges.