ISLAMABAD                  -              The parliamentary committee on coro­navirus yesterday approved eleven Terms of Reference [ToRs] including parliamentarians’ role to monitor the activities of the National Disaster Man­agement Authority (NDMA) in connec­tion with the fight against infectious Covid-19.

The 2nd meeting of parliamentary committee on coronavirus, chaired by Speaker National Assembly Asad Qais­er, with consensus approved the ToRs to run the committee in an organized manner.

The ToRs were prepared by a sub-committee on coronavirus and sub­mitted before the committee for ap­proval.

According to the approved ToRs, the members have suggested that the SOPs (standard operating procedures) of the NDMA, which is headed by a serving military man, should also be prepared by the parliamentary committee “to ensure equitable distribution of cash/relief packages to needy avoiding over­lapping from various agencies of the federal and provincial governments”.

The parliamentary body will have power to suggest steps needed to be taken to protect the country’s econo­my in the wake of ongoing coronavi­rus crisis, according to the approved ToRs. The committee will also take all non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society on board in the distribution of relief amount and goods to the people, according to ToRs.

The parliamentary committee will work for the creation and promo­tion of national harmony between the Centre and federating units, including Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, “for evolving unanimous narrative on the issues related to current pandemic”.

The committee will also suggest the ways and means as to how parliament and its standing committees could per­form their functions in the wake of this pandemic, says the approved ToRs.

The parliamentary committee, ac­cording to the ToRs, will also ensure mobilisation of all resources at all lev­els to ensure that the country’s health system keeps functioning effectively. Another responsibility of the parlia­mentary committee will be “to over­see the testing facilities throughout the country and removal of bureaucratic bottlenecks, if any, in procuring imme­diate necessary health-related items at all levels”.

The members of the committee will also be entrusted with the task of iden­tifying and enforcing “immediate in­novative steps” at all levels to evolve strategy and mechanism to ensure pro­vision of basic essential edibles to the needy and poor during the ongoing lockdown in the country, according to the approved ToRs.

Later, the committee was briefed about the economic situation of the country.

Advisor to the Prime Minister on Fi­nance Minister and Revenue Abdul Hafeez Shaikh briefed the committee saying the country’s economic situa­tion was fast improving with a positive trend of increase in resources.

Pakistan even witnessed decrease in inflation and three percent increase in imports before the corona virus crisis.

The infectious virus created nega­tive impact on country’s economic con­dition. This global challenge has af­fected manufacturing industry and air transport, he said mentioning that the stock market has witnessed ac declin­ing trend from mid of February.

He said rupee value depreciated only in a short span of time due to coronavirus.

The Advisor to PM said relief has been planned on eatable and health re­lated items. He said there was a plan to provide relief to daily wagers.

He said Rs25 billion have been given to Utility stores.

The Committee appreciated the ini­tiatives taken by Asad Qaiser, Speaker, National Assembly of Pakistan to con­stitute a Parliamentary Committee on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

The Speaker told the meeting that the main object to constitute the said Com­mittee is to give the priority of inputs that would be obtained from the Mem­bers of the Parliament and the recom­mendations of the Committee would be forwarded to the Government for im­plementation.

The Speaker lauded the collected ef­forts of the Sub-Committee for finaliz­ing its report in a short time.

The opposition members raised a number of questions in the Committee for the non-availability of ventilators, testing kits and other equipments re­quired for coronavirus disease and uti­lization of funds received for the dis­ease by the government.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi told the Commit­tee that main object of the committee is to collect inputs form political lead­ers and send to NCOC for implementa­tion and NCC for taking further inputs.

He added that distribution of food items will be ensured to 12 million per­sons as per old data and 4 million per­sons as per new data and prescribed procedure is being finalized for the dis­tribution of food items, EPPs and test kits and all data will be available on website.

Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed proposed that tests of Corona­virus patients should be increased.

Giving a briefing on the distribution of funds, Minister Hamad Azhar said that SOPs for the distribution of food items have been provided to the Gov­ernment of Punjab and NGOs.

The old procedure for distributions of food items in district levels was not good, he added. A uniform policy has been made with the consultation of provinces for opening of Industries and shops, he said.

Abdul Razak Dawood. Advisor to Prime Minister for Commerce and Tex­tiles, said that Rs 100 billion relief pack­age will be given in agriculture sector