KARACHI: Sindh Labour Minister Saeed Ghani said on Sunday that the Workers Welfare Fund and Staff Old-age Benefits Institutions (EOBI) were a provincial matter under the 18th Amendment, condemning the federal government for usurping the rights of the provinces, but the Centre did not want to grant the provinces shares and properties.
Mr Ghani, speaking at a press conference here, said that the Sindh government opposed what he termed the federal government’s “illegal and unconstitutional seizure of the EOBI and Workers Welfare Funds.”
He said that the provinces should not be stripped of their powers by an unelected special assistant with dual citizenship.
He said several federal departments were relocated from the union to the provinces after the 18th Amendment, after which the provincial assemblies made legislation.
Mr Ghani, who also holds the education portfolio, said the Sindh Assembly had 16 labour laws in force. He said what was the responsibility of Sindh and Punjab if Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan did not establish their own labour rules.
He said the federal government had sent an unethical and unlawful letter to an accounting company saying it would handle the Workers’ Welfare Fund and EOBI.
Sindh, Punjab to move court over federal govt’s wrong report presented to CCI’
He said a committee was created under the chairmanship of Federal Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza when the issue was discussed at a meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI). He said the chief minister of Sindh had sent him to plead in the province’s case.
Mr Ghani recalled that the stand taken by Sindh at the meeting was also backed by Punjab and Balochistan, and at that time the federation also accepted the Workers Welfare Funds’ assertion of Rs124 billion, out of a total of Rs172 billion.
“He said, however, that the CCI was presented with a completely opposite report on which both Sindh and Punjab exercised their constitutional right to say that these minutes were wrong and now “we will also contest it in court.
The CCI was, of course, a legislative body, he said, but it did not have the jurisdiction to revoke any law made by a provincial assembly or condemn a decision of the high court.
Mr Ghani said that there was no alternative for children learning in a classroom in response to a question about the closing of educational institutions and online schooling due to the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. “We had no idea there was going to be a case like that. Under duress, online schooling was launched. There’s no Internet in many places. With the aid of online courses, TV channels and FM radio, we have continued our efforts to educate youngsters, but we have not achieved 100 per cent of the students.
When asked about the involvement of the PPP in the forthcoming by-elections when it declared the tender resignations from the Pakistan Democratic Movement forum, he said: “By-elections are a constitutional requirement that should occur.” In my view, to tell the world that the people do not want PTI anymore, we should engage in by-elections.
He added, however, that it was agreed by the PDM that MPAs from all political parties should send to their respective party leadership their resignations. “We have submitted to our leadership our resignations.”