ISLAMABAD         -            Former Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani, on Saturday, said that the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was wrong in saying that the 18th Amendment was a hurdle in preparing national policy to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is incorrect to suggest that the 18th Amendment is a hurdle in formulating national policy for the virus,” said Senator Raza Rabbani, who is widely known as one of the main authors of the 18th amendment.

On Friday, Federal Information Minister Shibli Faraz had said that the 18th amendment to the constitution was an obstacle in formulating a uniform policy to tackle the deadly virus across the country. The information minister had said that the amendment had delimited the federal government’s role to issuing policy guidelines only.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) stalwart Senator Rabbani said that Council of Common Interests (CCI) was the right constitutional forum having the mandate to formulate uniform national policies in terms of the federation. “The CCI is a body under Articles 153 and 154 of 1973 Constitution, to formulate consensus on policies, but it has been made redundant by the federal government,” he added.

The opposition party lawmaker in a statement also alleged that the federal government “lacked the political will and foresight to forge a consensus between the federation and the provinces.”

He said that the federal government, in its fight against the virus, has replaced the CCI by the National Coordination Committee (NCC). “If constitutional bodies are to be replaced by notified bodies, confusion in federal policies is bound to exist.”

He further said that it was incorrect, for the information minister, to suggest that after the 18th Amendment, the regulatory control over ‘Industries’ has been shifted to the provinces  “The entry ‘Industries’ was not in the concurrent legislative list, and hence was not devolved.”

The information minister had earlier said that a collective response was required to meet the unprecedented challenge of corornavirus but the 18th Amendment had delegated the regulatory powers regarding industries to the provinces and the federal government could only issue policy guidelines.

Senator Rabbani said that prior to the 18th Amendment in the Constitution; ‘Industries’, where development under federal control was declared by federal law to be expedient in the public interest, was entry no. 3 in the federal legislative list, part-II, and it continues to remain in the same list after this amendment.

“The list is governed by the CCI. Hence, there is no change and the situation for this entry continues as prior to the 18th Amendment.”

Former chairman Senate concluded that the constitution provided that CCI should meet once in 90 days but 125 days had lapsed since its last meeting was held.