KARACHI: The Sindh Social Scientists Forum (SSSF), a social think tank, has asked the federal and provincial governments to allocate at least 10 per cent of the federal budget and 20 per cent of the provincial budget for health, education and the social sector.
In a statement issued on Monday, SSSF claimed that the health sector at both the federal and provincial levels was under severe stress due to the coronavirus outbreak, with hospitals struggling to handle the emergency.
"The budget for the year 2020-2021 should be dedicated to the social sector," said the statement. "The governments must give priority to health, education and the social sector to serve the people."
SSSF stressed the need to establish new hospitals, improve the state of healthcare facilities, provide personal protective equipment, increase bed capacity and appoint new doctors, nurses, and other staff.
Moreover, it urged the provincial governments to set aside a budget for the provision of easy loans to younger people to help them start small businesses, while also supporting education for underprivileged people and the social mobilisation of communities at the union council levels for health and hygiene issues.
"Every school in the rural and semi-urban areas needs water and proper sanitation. The government must address this," added the statement.
The forum suggested the provincial governments increase funds for the local governments to address the food and health crisis, claiming that a strong local government system could tackle the pandemic and other related problems. "Unfortunately, the provincial governments have not been serious in addressing the concerns of the local governments."
It further highlighted the need for the Centre and the provinces to work together to overcome the ongoing crisis, adding that the federal government should share grants from foreign donors with the provinces.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2020.
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