Karachi, March 28, 2021: Addressing a press conference at Bilawal House, PPP Parliamentary Leader in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman said, “The third wave of Covid-19 is extremely dangerous but the government’s messaging is as confused as ever. The premier is conducting meetings while being Covid positive. Instead of providing free vaccine to the poor who are the most exposed, Na Ehl Sarkar has conveniently placed the responsibility on private sector.Local price of SputnikV is a whopping 150% higher than international prices. Whereas, globally governments are giving free access to vaccines but here the Tabahi Sarkar has made them unaffordable”.
“According to a mechanism approved by DRAP, the trade price for an imported vaccine will add 40% mark up to the landed cost, with another 15% for retailers or hospitals. Authorities have proposed a price of 8,449 rupees ($54.30) per pack of two injections of Sputnik V and 4,225 ($27.15) per injection for Convidecia. This 55% of margin of profit for essentially a lifesaving treatment in a poor country like Pakistan where 30-40% people live below the poverty line, cannot be justified,” she added.
She said, “So far, 0.25% of our population has been given at least one dose of the vaccine, whereas, the total number of vaccines administered are 0.4 million. If we compare these figures with that of Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka, India or Nepal, we are behind them all”.
“Allowing private companies to import the vaccines and exempting them from price caps will only create inequalities. Our people are already struggling because of the inflation and unemployment caused by this government, how can they afford such high prices of the vaccine?” she questioned.
Discussing International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) decision to release its next tranche of $500 million for Pakistan, Senator Rehman said, “It is shocking considering the government claimed that it will not borrow money but we must not forget the strict conditions that have been met to make this possible. The government is conveniently covering up the adjustments it had to made, all which will have an impact on the people of Pakistan”.
“Tabahi Sarkar has re-entered IMF’s $6b programme and has taken a loan of $1.3b from the World Bank to run the country. A burden of billions has been shifted on local masses through indirect taxes and hyperinflation while sweeping tax concessions have been given to PTI cronies abroad,” she added.
She said, “Imposing taxes worth Rs. 140 billion, giving unprecedented autonomy to State Bank of Pakistan and increasing the power tariff which is already highest in the region, are all some of the adjustments this government has made but this is not how things are done. PPP signed and completed many agreements with IMF but they were never at the expense of the poor people of Pakistan who pay the most in indirect taxes”.
“These measures will only increase inflation and burden our people who are already struggling to make ends meet. Tabahi Sarkar has made IMF into East India Company and is letting them take over the country. These so-called reforms will only put more pressure on the tax payers. Can the government answer how it will save lives and livelihoods and help the economy?” she questioned.
She asked, “How can State Bank be above the state and parliamentary scrutiny? This is like giving an open invitation to the IMF to directly run Pakistani institutions. Parliamentary oversight is crucial to a country’s progress and we will not Tabahi Sarkar get away with it.”.
“Once again, this Na Ehl Sarkar is relying on ordinances instead of following the parliamentary procedure. They are hiding behind IMF but we demand that they brief the parliament about this deal,” she added.
Vice President PPPP Senator Sherry Rehman concluded by saying that, “Our public debt is 44 trillion which is 98% of our GDP, inflation is sky rocketing, there are no new job opportunities instead people are being fired from our state institutions, circular debt is rising but Propaganda Sarkar is only concerned with their fake image building”.
Responding to questions about the political situation within the PDM, she said, “We did not use inappropriate language when there was suddenly an unopposed walkover in the Punjab provincial assembly for the PML N candidates after we had stood down our candidate in support of the N ones”.
“If I start off on accusations then it will be a long story. We do not see any future in pushing aside non-constitutional options first. We have seen what happened to boycotts in 1985 and that is why we advised the N League even in APDM days not to boycott elections and defeat General Musharraf via the parliamentary and political process. That is how President Zardari removed him. If we boycott or resign now, the rights of small provinces will suffer a terrible setback as we will leave all forums open for the PTI to run a bulldozer over our parliamentary accomplishments done via the Charter of Democracy,” she added.
She said, “Now I hear from a senior N League office bearer that they will not resign given the PPP’s decision. It’s okay if our name and shoulder is used to come to more sensible political decisions. No point pushing a few parties to the wall, as dicatation is not the way to run alliances”.
“Taking the Leader of the Opposition (LOO) in Senate is always the right of the single largest party in the parliament. If it was so unimportant why did N League make unilateral announcements for it, citing one meeting where our member there only had the mandate to discuss the Chairman and Deputy Chairmanship candidates. If a “package” for giving LOO to N League, which already has LOO in NA and chair of PAC, was to be forced down our throats for votes in the NA for Yusuf Reza then they should have said so. At that time they had no candidate that matched his stature for the post and nor did they have an experienced parliamentarian suitable for the post of LOO in the Senate. We only took Dilawar’s vote and he is from N League as an Independent candidate,” she said.
She added, “N league had already filed their signatures without consulting with us. But we still waited until the last day for talks to sort the issue by consensus, when we were told like before that it’s “non-negotiatiable”.
“Our leadership is all on ECL and our former PM cannot go abroad for a medical check up. The rest I leave to you to ascertain between fact and fiction. Democracy is a long journey for which PPP has paid a huge price, and it is the PPP which will take down the PTI Tabahi sarkar,” she said.
She said, “There is no question of collaborating with the government. We contested on every constitutional platform in parliament and expected better cooperation from partners on one after another parliamentary successes”.
“PDM was created to hold this government accountable and to dismantle their fake, artificial hold on parliament, which is the path to government and to public representation. PPP is not responding to N League’s inappropriate personal attacks because we believe this will hurt the PDM and hurting the PDM means giving space to an unacceptable, unaccountable selected government whose last days have come,” concluded Senator Sherry Rehman.