KARACHI : Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said the Federal Government had no disagreement with any province over the 18th Constitutional Amendment as it only intended to remove specific anomalies. Some federal subjects were wrongly devolved to the provinces under the amendment, which would be returned back to the federation and for that all the provincial governments would be consulted, he said while talking to senior journalists belonging to regional newspapers and news channels. As regards the coronavirus pandemic, the prime minister said the National Coordination Committee (NCC) was meeting regularly and it was taking decisions about the measures to contain the contagion in consensus with all the provinces. He said since the day one he was against imposition of strict lockdown in the country to stem the virus as he was worried about the labour class, particularly the daily wagers. The government had double responsibility of taking steps to contain the spread of COVID-19 and at the same time to ensure that the poor segments of society do not face financial challenges. Imran Khan said the Federal Government opted for imposition of smart lockdown and eased restrictions for many sectors of economy. The decision proved fruitful as the smart lockdown had not only slowed down the transmission of the deadly virus but also helped save the economy from a major crisis. He said the government had now decided to go hard for the implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs). The smart lockdown would be imposed in hotspot areas across the country. He regretted that some elements were doing politics on the coronavirus. The Federal Government had not done any kind of discrimination with any province, he added. About local government system, Imran Khan said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was the only party which believed in devolution of powers to the local level and its provincial government practically executed the plan in that regard in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2013. He said the local government system was important for the resolution of people’s problems at local level. Under the new system being announced by the incumbent government, the mayors of cities would be elected directly by the citizens and that would help address the issues being faced by the mega city of Karachi. To a question regarding the locust attack, the prime minister said the emergency had been declared in the country since January 31 and the Federal Government was making all-out efforts to eliminate the locust swarms. The Federal Government was constantly in contact with the neighbouring countries, including Iran and India, and it had taken the provinces on board to devise a strategy for combating the locusts, he added. Speaking on the occasion, Special Assistant to the PM on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar said the major chunk of Rs 60 billion earmarked for Sindh under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme had been distributed among the needy families. Some five million deserving families of Sindh would benefit from the cash assistance programme.. She said the prime minister had issued special instructions to ensure indiscriminate distribution of cash assistance. It was decided to distribute the cash assistance on the basis of 2013 census data, according to which the share of Sindh was 22%, which, however, was raised to 31% on the PM’s direction. For the purpose, the difference amount would be borrowed from the PM’s COVID-19 Fund. Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Opposition Leader in Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi and PTI MPA Haleem Adil Sheikh were also present during the meeting.
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