KARACHI: The Sindh government should approach the federal government to ensure that every district starts providing flood survivors access to money so that they may rebuild their homes and businesses, it was recommended at the Sindh Assembly session on Monday.
MPA Arif Mustafa Jatoi of the National Peoples Party (NPP) tabled a resolution at the session, asking that the flood survivors be given money through the House Building Finance Corporation (HBFC), the Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) and other financial institutions.
The flood survivors have lost everything in the floods, including livestock, said Jatoi, who added that no bank is willing to give them loans without guarantees.
The resolution received unanimous approval and was passed in Monday’s session, where most of the legislators were of the opinion that people living in rural areas were unable to receive loans because of the “complicated policies” of financial institutions.
“Federal institutions believe in discrimination, [which is why] Sindh is always ignored due to the double standards in policy [making],” said Sindh Law Minister Ayaz Soomro.
The law minister said that the government will try and negotiate a policy with the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), under which people may get loans to reconstruct their houses and restart their businesses.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) parliamentary leader Sardar Ahmed said that there is a “dire need” to support the country’s agriculture and production sectors, which have already reduced from six per cent to two per cent over the last few years.
Every year, the SBP fixes a target for banks to provide loans to the agriculture sector, but they are not willing to follow the assigned quota and place very complicated conditions on the loans, he said.
“Banks make billions in profit. They give millions of rupees as bonuses to their employees,” he added. Supporting the resolution, Ahmed said that a district-wise criteria be easily be fixed to benefit a farmer who does not own a piece of land.
Imran Zafar Leghari stressed on the need to provide construction material at subsidised rates to people in rural areas so that they can build homes for themselves.
It is not just the people living in rural areas who don’t get loans, said Masroor Ahmed Jatoi, but those in the city are also unable to get loans because of the tough conditions placed by banks and financial institutions.
Sindh Finance Minister Murad Ali Shah said that the ministry had negotiated with the federal government for a relief package for farmers and land owners, adding that he hoped that the package would be approved and benefit the people soon.
Colonisation of Government Lands Bill
The Colonisation of Govern-ment Lands (Amendment) Bill 2010 was also passed with a unanimous vote to amend the Colonisation of Government Land Act 1912. The bill was amended to grant an extension to the Education City project as well as other projects in Sindh related to health and education.
“Under the provision of 1912 act, the grantees of land in the Education City project are required to complete their projects within a period of two years. But they were unable to complete their projects due to the unavailability of water, electricity, gas and other infrastructure facilities. Therefore, it is expedient to amend the act,” it was stated in the bill.
The bill also allows the chief minister to extend the time period allotted for the completion of projects if the delay is not caused by negligence “on the part of the grantee”.
After the bill was tabled by Sindh Law Minister Ayaz Soomro, MQM’s parliamentary leader Sardar Ahmed proposed an amendment in it.
“We support the bill, but the period for further extension in the bill is not clear,” he argued.
Ahmed proposed that the CM grant the investors an extension of two years to complete a project.
However, if they are unable to complete a project within four years — including the extension period — then the issue should be presented before the Sindh Cabinet for further action.
Sikander Mendhro moved a motion to incorporate the amendment in the bill. He also requested that the bill should be implemented across the province, following which the bill was passed into law by a unanimous vote.
Another bill passed, three deferred
MPAs also unanimously passed the Pakistan Institute of Management Bill 2001 while approval of the Sindh Seed Corporation, the Sindh Shops and Establishment (Security) and the Sindh Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority bills were deferred till Wednesday.
SA admits adjournment motion on increasing prices
MQM’s Heer Ismali Soho submitted an adjournment motion at the session to discuss an increase in the prices of petroleum products, liquid gas, electricity, sugar, milk, lentils and vegetables. The SA admitted Soho’s adjournment motion, discussion on which will be initiated in Thursday’s session.
MPAs also paid tribute to national poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal and recognised his “inimitable services for the Muslims of the sub-continent”.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 9th, 2010.