PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari PHOTO: PPP MEDIA CELL/FILE

Bilawal slams govt’s ‘wrong priorities’

PPP chairman says relief for announced construction sector, but not healthcare staff

​ Our Correspondent April 17, 2020
ISLAMABAD: PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday hit out at the federal government for having its “priorities wrong” in dealing the coronavirus pandemic pointing out that it had announced a relief package for the construction industry but nothing for healthcare workers, who were on the frontline in the war against the disease.

“In the middle of global pandemic, we have not announced major relief packages for our doctors, nurses, frontline fighters or even daily-wage earners who have been hardest hit by lockdown. However, Pakistan has announced major relief for construction industry during Covid-19,” the PPP chief tweeted.

“Our value for profit over human life is driving our response to a health crisis,” he added.

“The federal government has its priorities wrong and the whole country could suffer as a result. Support our health care system. Support our labourers. Support those who need it most.”

The federal cabinet had approved an ordinance providing legal cover to the incentive package announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan for the construction industry earlier this month in a bid to create employment opportunities in the country to ward off adverse effects of the coronavirus crisis on economy.

Federal cabinet approves ordinance to provide relief to construction sector

Under the ordinance, a fixed tax regime is being introduced for builders and developers. There will be no withholding tax on the construction material except cement and steel.

Doctors, paramedics and others affiliated with healthcare sector across the country have been complaining about the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The dearth of protective gear has left the healthcare workers, who are on the frontline in the fight against the virus, facing the the highest risk of infection.

Several images circulating on the social media show doctors working and inspecting patients wearing plastic bags to protect themselves.

Young Doctors Association (YDA) Punjab President Dr Salman Haseeb has lambasted the Punjab government for failing to provide PPE that has resulted doctors and paramedics becoming infected.

The Pakistan Medical Association, Pakistan Islamic Medical Association, Young Doctors Association-Sindh, Young Nurses Association, Sindh Midwifery Association and College of Family Medicine have also called for immediate provision of PPE.

Earlier this month, police used excessive force to break up a protest by the Young Doctors Association in Quetta. The healthcare professionals were protesting against the lack of protective gear at hospitals.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, over than a dozen health professionals, including nine doctors and seven nurses, have reportedly contracted coronavirus.