Sindh Assembly passes bill to establish food authority
KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Wednesday unanimously adopted a government bill to establish a food authority in the province to ensure provision of safe and hygienic food to the people.
The Sindh Food Authority Bill, 2016, which will turn into an act once the Sindh governor gives assent to it, carries prison term and fines for those found involved in making/selling adulterated food or soft drinks.
The Sindh Food Authority, to be headed by the food minister, will comprise 16 members — seven bureaucrats, three provincial lawmakers nominated by the speaker, one representative each of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, food operators, food industry and consumers, a food technologist and any other member/respective commissioner as co-opted by the government. The secretary of the food department would act as convener.
According to the bill, a food safety officer can initiate action against any person who manufactures, stores, sells, distributes, imports or exports any food item which is not of standard or misbranded. The said person shall be liable to imprisonment for a term up to six months and/or fine, which may extend to Rs1 million, or with both.
But in case of false warranty, the person shall be liable to six-month imprisonment or fine up to Rs500,000 or both.
In case of injury or death of a consumer due to unsafe food, the court, in addition to any other penalty under this law, shall direct the food operator to pay compensation to the consumer or, as the case may be, the legal heirs of the consumer an amount which is not less than Rs1m in case of complete disability or death; or not exceeding Rs500,000 in case of partial disability or injury.
MPA Dr Mahesh Malani, the chairman of the standing committee on food, presented the report on the law in the assembly and Senior Minister Nisar Khuhro piloted the bill for clause-by-clause consideration.
Syed Sardar Ahmed, the parliamentary party leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, suggested a few amendments in certain clauses, which were accommodated accordingly.
The bill was unanimously passed after its third reading.
Later, the assembly was adjourned at 2.30pm to reassemble on Thursday (today).
The house was called to order by Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani at 11am. After the Question Hour, the house adopted four resolutions with consensus on the International Women’s Day.
The resolutions — read out by Ghazala Sial of the PPP, Naheed Begum of the MQM, Nusrat Sahar Abbasi of the PML-Functional, Dr Seema Zia of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Sorath Thebo of the PML-N — paid rich tributes to the women of Pakistan, particularly Fatima Jinnah, Raana Liaquat Ali Khan, Benazir Bhutto, Nusrat Bhutto, mothers of the slain students of the Army Public School, Peshawar, and all those women who, despite challenges, had contributed bravely to nation-building and community services.
In their brief speeches, the women lawmakers demanded that all political parties give more representation to women, more representation in the government institutions and equal rights. They also resolved to stand against all discrimination towards them and for equal opportunity and social protection.
Earlier, in response to the call-attention notice of PTI’s Dr Zia about non-payment of salaries to non-gazetted and gazetted staff, including senior doctors, of the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, Local Government Minister Jam Khan Shoro said that all regular staff and non-gazetted employees were being paid regularly.
However, he said that he would consult the administration and then submit a reply about specialist trainee doctors who were serving on stipends.
Kamran Akhtar of the MQM raised the issue of ‘unjust’ police raids and harassment. However, Senior Minister Khuhro said that police and other law-enforcement agencies were discharging their responsibility and they deserved encouragement, not criticism.
In response to the call-attention notice of PPP’s Ghazala Sial about posting of only one teacher for 200 students of the Government Primary School Younusabad, Minister Jam Mehtab Dahar said that there were three teachers and two of them had resigned. However, he said he had asked the deputy commissioner concerned to hire two more teachers so that students should not suffer.
In response to the call-attention notice of PTI’s Khurram Sherzaman about non-availability of water in Clifton, the LG minister said that only 550 million gallons daily of water was being supplied to Karachi against the demand of 1,100 mgd. This was causing shortage of water for tail-enders, he added.
He said that the government had closed down illegal hydrants and was also taking other measures to improve water supply.
MQM’s Heer Soho raised the issue of holding of a jirga of Swand and Sabzoi communities. Senior Minister Khuhro informed the house that ‘arbitration’, and not a jirga, between the two communities was held in Shikarpur, where clashes were recurring in the two communities over theft of animals for the past several years in which over 104 persons had been killed. He said the arbitration was held to settle their dispute and save precious lives.
He said the concept of out-of-court settlement was not new to the world and such issues were also being resolved through arbitration.