ISLAMABAD - The federal government and all four provincial governments on Saturday submitted a response to the Supreme Court (SC) explaining the measures taken so far to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The federal government in its report informed the court about the decisions taken in the National Coordination Committee. The NCOC decided to open phase two of the construction sector. The meeting decided to keep several places, including shopping malls, and wedding halls, closed till May 31.

The committee allowed the opening of small shopping malls for the convenience of the people.

The Punjab government in its report stated there was no fraud in the Zakat Fund. The Auditor General raised objections to the violation of rules in the distribution of funds and there were no allegations of theft or embezzlement in the Auditor General’s objections, it added.

Business activities suspended in Punjab on direction of federal govt

It stated that in Punjab, after the introduction of agriculture income tax, collection of ushr on crops falls under the category of double tax. It was up to the provinces to legislate on health and law and order, it added. The report stated that the provincial government launched Punjab Infectious Diseases and Control Prevention Ordinance 2020 for Public Health and law and order.

The federal government gave the provinces the power to decide on lockdowns, the report added.

The report stated that the business activities were suspended in Punjab on the direction of the federal government. Under Articles 143 and 149, the provinces were bound to comply with the directives of the federal government, it added. Lockdown was essential for public health and the situation could affect federal taxes, it added.

 

The report stated that there was no difference between the federal government and the provinces on the lockdown. The health ministry in its report stated that offices, shopping malls, wedding halls or crowded places would remain closed until May 31. Small shops in rural and urban areas would be opened under SOPs and Grocery and small shops in all provinces would be open from dawn to 5 pm, it added.

The report stated that there would be a complete lockdown on Saturdays and Sundays, except for essential items. The decision to run public transport within the cities and from one city to another would be taken at the meeting, it added.

 

All educational institutions will remain closed until July 15. As per the order of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, steps are being taken to deal with the coronavirus under the national policy, the health ministry reply stated.

 

The Sindh government in its report stated that the court inquired about the impediment to tax payment to the federation. Various industries and businesses were shut down due to coronavirus, it added. The report stated that the Sindh government had not taken any steps to stop the federal tax. Decline in exports due to lockdown would definitely reduce taxes, it added.

 

The report stated that the decision to extend the lockdown was taken at a meeting of the National Coordination Committee. The Zakat Fund is audited annually by the Auditor General and action is taken as per the report of the Auditor General, it added.

 

The reply stated that the Sindh government was using all its resources to deal with the coronavirus and so far more than one hundred thousand coronavirus tests had been done in the province.

 

The Balochistan government’s report revealed misappropriation of billions of rupees in Zakat Fund Audit. According to the Zakat Fund audit report from 2015 to 2018, Rs 1.002 billion was not spent, it added.

The report stated that cantonment hospitals were given Rs 2 million unfairly and no record of Rs 51million spent on treatment of deserving patients was provided.

 

The report stated that no record of medicine provided to patients worth Rs 5 million was found while district Zakat Committees did not submit refund record of Rs 4.731 million. Rs 28 million was spent by appointing incompetent chairmen of local zakat committees, it added.

 

The report stated that scholarships worth hundreds of thousands rupees were given to the children of educational institutions and madrassas without any record. Qila Abdullah Zakat Committee illegally released Rs 5.429 million to religious madrassas, it added.

 

It stated that local Zakat Committees issued 24 million illegal open cheques. Provincial Zakat funds were not released due to political appointments in different districts. Under the Balochistan Zakat Usher Act, usher rules have not been made yet.