The Punjab Assembly (PA) on Wednesday finally passed a resolution asking that the parliament frame the legislation necessary to establish a federal Drug Regulatory Authority (DRA).
Article 144(1) of the Constitution allows the provinces to shift responsibilities to the Centre. Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have already passed similar resolutions.
Wednesday was the first day of the 34th session of the Punjab Assembly, which was summoned by the governor on Monday.
Law Minister Rana Sanaullah moved the resolution, which said that a regulatory authority be formed at the federal level to monitor and regulate all matters pertaining to drugs and medicines. It was passed unanimously.
Even though the treasury and opposition continued bickering, tempers seemed to have calmed down a bit since the last session.
Rising on a point of order, Leader of the Opposition Raja Riaz alleged that the Punjab government had “deliberately delayed” the passing of the resolution.
Referring to the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) catastrophe, he said that had the formation of the authority not been delayed, because of the Punjab government, the deaths from a tainted batch of IsoTab would not have occurred.
He also condemned the chief minister’s absence from the House.
Sanaullah rose in his seat and said that the federal government had handed over control of two of its hospitals – Jinnah Hospital in Karachi and Shaikh Zayed Hospital in Quetta – to the respective provincial governments on June 30, 2011.
“But it delayed handing Shaikh Zayed Hospital, Lahore over to the Punjab government,” said Sanaullah.
The opposition then demanded that the Punjab government release Rs8 million worth of development funds allocated to their constituencies, which led to an uproar. The Speaker prorogued the session indefinitely after the opposition pointed out by the quorum.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2012.