Peshawar LG reps want funds released

PESHAWAR: Elected representatives and nazims of various village and neighbourhood councils of the provincial metropolis have expressed concern over the delay in release of developmental funds for the last seven months.

Speaking at a joint press conference at Peshawar Press Club on Monday, nazims and councillors said that the developmental funds for 2017-18 had not been paid for the past seven months without any reason. They said it had badly affected the routine work of cleanliness, water supply, sports activities, plantation, sanitation, and other activities.

All Nazimeen Organizing Committee Peshawar president Amanullah Khan said that undue delay in release of the uplift funds had led to suspension of the ongoing plans of clean drinking water and disposal of solid waste, which had caused unrest among the elected representatives and general public as well. “We are unable to face our voters as they always ask us for supplying water, continue the cleanliness work but all these activities are impossible to be carried out in the prevailing situation when the required funds are not available,” he argued.

He presented a charter of demands, which included provision of Class-IV employees, Nadra software to all villages, neighbourhood councils and 100 per cent enhancement in honoraria of the nazims. Similarly, he also demanded that they should be allowed to work on the departmental quotations and opposed the 10 per cent cut from nazims’ funds by Water and Sanitation Services Peshawar.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/271875-peshawar-lg-reps-want-funds-released

Election Observation Preliminary Report (Counting Process) PP-20 (Chakwal-I)

Election Observation Preliminary Report (Counting Process) PP-20 (Chakwal-I)

Tuesday (January 9, 2018)

This report is issued by Coalition for Elections and Democracy (CED) for observing the counting process of by-election at PP-20 (Chakwal I). Total number of Registered voters in the constituency is 279530 including 144191 male voters and 135339 female voters. Total number of polling stations set up in the constituency is 227 with 814 polling booths, 421 for male voters and 393 for female voters. This report presents the observation of the closing and counting process of polling in the constituency.

The official closing time of the polling is 5pm. The CED teams made sure to enter the sampled polling stations before the closure of voting process. However, at the Polling Station # 24 Government Girls Elementary School Fim Kassar and at polling station # 170 Government High School Muhammad Ali Chakwal (Combined) security official didn’t allow the team to enter the polling station and observe the counting process however the presiding officer handed over copy of form XIV to the observers after the end of counting process but the presiding officer of Polling Station # 24 didn’t share the copy of result to the team waiting outside the polling station # 170.

While entering the polling stations for observation of the closing and counting process the observers also reported about the situation outside the polling stations. It was observed that there were no voters waiting outside of the polling station to vote.

The observers reported that 100 % of the sampled polling stations closed on time. The polling staff started the closing process immediately and the counting started within 10 minutes of the closing at average. The voters waiting to vote inside the polling station were allowed to vote.

The observers reported a number of discrepancies in closing process. ECP staff at 14% polling stations did not count and record the number of un-used ballot papers immediately after start of closing process, pending it till final filling of forms towards the end of the counting process. Teams of Observers reported that at 57 % of the sampled polling stations seals of the ballot boxes were damaged before opening. Observers reported from 14% polling stations that the polling staff did not cross check the number of ballots cast against the number of signatures on the counterfoil I.e. issued ballot papers. Observers reported that that at 29% of the polling stations the polling staff did not perform the crosschecks of the data for mathematical consistency. Observers reported that at 57% of the polling stations that counting process was seriously hampered by overcrowding.

CED observers reported that at 22 % of the sampled polling stations the presiding officers did not paste the result outside the polling station for the public. At 67 % of sampled polling stations the presiding officers provided copies of the result (form XIV) to the poling agents.

The observers noted that during counting process no formal complaint was lodged at polling stations. The polling staff cooperated with the CED observers during the counting process. All the observers were allowed to sit in the counting room without any restriction except for two polling station already mentioned above. The presiding officers of all the sampled polling stations answered all questions related to counting process and shared details of the vote count with observers.

About CED: CED is a civil society coalition for voter education, election observation and strengthening democratic institutions. Its secretariat is based at CPDI


Coalition for Election and Democracy
601 | Abu Dhabi Towers | Block B | F-11 Markaz | Islamabad | Pakistan
Tel: +92 (0) 51-8312794, 8312795 Fax +92 (0) 51 844 36 33

Election Observation Report (Voting Process) PP-20 (Chakwal-I)

Election Observation Report (Voting Process) PP-20 (Chakwal-I)

Tuesday (January 9, 2018)

This report is being issued by Coalition for Elections and Democracy (CED) after observing the voting process in PP-20 (Chakwal-I). Total number of Registered voters in the constituency is 279,530 including 144,191 male voters and 135,339 female voters. Total number of polling stations set up in the constituency is 227 with 814 polling booths, 421 for male voters and 393 for female voters.

The CED teams initiated observation of the voting process right from the opening of the polling stations. Polling staff was present at all the sampled polling stations observed during the day. The voters’ enthusiasm remained relatively low in the by-election. The observers reported that only 25% of sampled polling stations had ques outside when the CED teams approached these polling stations. The average voter turnout per booth per hour was 16.3 during the day. The observers submitted their reports of voting process until 4:55 PM so that they could enter the polling stations again for observation of the closing and counting process.

The voting process generally remained calm during the day. Observers from 14% of the sampled polling stations reported that problems were observed in the vicinity of the polling station, implying that the ECP code of conduct was not being observed at these polling stations. Of these 14% polling stations, CED observers stated 67% had party camps within 400 yards, 83% said voters being transported to the polling stations while 17% stated incidents of voter parchi distribution outside polling stations. Presence of unauthorized people outside the polling stations was also observed at 17% of these polling stations.

Presence of unauthorized persons inside 25% of sampled polling stations was also reported by the CED observers. Only at 6% of the polling stations, polling staff asked them to leave. Among these unauthorized persons present inside the polling stations 55% were office bearers of a major political party and 18% were local officials. The observers further reported that 20% of the unauthorized persons present inside the polling stations were seen interfering with the work of ECP staff. The CED observers reported that they saw some sort of campaign material inside 7% of the sampled polling stations

The CED observers stated that the layout of the voting area was adequate for conduct of polling at 86% sampled polling stations and sufficiently protected secrecy of ballot at 84% sampled polling station. Moreover, 52% of the observers stated that the layout of the voting area was suitable to voters with reduced mobility.

About transparency and facilitation of the observes at the polling stations, CED observers stated that they were initially allowed to observe polling process at all sampled polling stations but they felt restrictions towards the end of the day; 30% of them reported that undue restriction inside the polling stations.

The observers also rated the overall conduct of the polling staff; 55% of them ranked their conduct to be very good and 43% ranked it good while 2% ranked their conduct as bad.

No major law and order situation was witnessed at the sampled polling stations during the CED observation. The security situation generally remained in control of the law enforcement agencies. This tight control started affecting the observation process as closing time approached. The observers reported from various locations that the security personal asked them to leave the polling stations as soon as the polling time ends implying that they would not be able to observe counting process at these polling stations. The details of such polling stations shall be included in the third report covering the counting process.

About CED: CED is a civil society coalition for voter education, election observation and strengthening democratic institutions. Its secretariat is based at CPDI


Coalition for Election and Democracy
601 | Abu Dhabi Towers | Block B | F-11 Markaz | Islamabad | Pakistan
Tel: +92 (0) 51-8312794, 8312795 Fax +92 (0) 51 844 36 33

Exit Polls in PP-20 (Chakwal – I) By-Elections indicates PMLN retaining the Provincial Assembly Seat

Exit Polls in PP-20 (Chakwal – I) By-Elections indicates PMLN retaining the Provincial Assembly Seat

Tuesday (January 9, 2018)

The exit poll exercise conducted by the Coalition for Elections and Democracy (CED) in bye-elections of Provincial Assembly Constituency PP-20 indicates PMLN candidate polling more than 50% of the polled votes. The survey was conducted on a sample size of 773 voters; including 311 males, 454 females and 8 transgenders. The responses were collected from 45 sampled polling stations. Total number of polling station established in the constituency was 227.

The survey results show that PMLN candidate Haider Sultan Ali bagged 50% votes against the closest rival Raja Tariq Afzal from PTI who could get only 38% of votes. Nasir Minhas, candidate of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasulallah, got 8% and ANP candidate Imran Qaisar is at 4th place with 3% votes. About 0.5% of the polled votes go to independent candidates.

The analysis of exit poll data shows some interesting trends. The gender breakdown of the exit poll result shows that 45% of male voters voted for PMLN as against 39% for PTI. 13% of male voters voted for TLP. PMLN seems to gain popularity among female voters as 58% females voted for PMLN as against 38% for PTI. TLP can get only 4% of the female votes.

The voting activity also has clear connection with educational qualifications of the voters. PMLN is a clear choice for 3 bottom educational groups that include illiterate, primary and matric. As the educational qualification increases, the voter base of PTI also increases. PTI enjoys majority among voters with educational qualification as Graduate, Masters and M.Phil/PhD. Interestingly, TLP vote bank although small exists in all education qualification groups.

As has been the trends in previous exit polls exercises, the voter choice also indicates a connection with the age group. 53% of young voters aged between 18 and 22 years voted for the PTI. PMLN could attract only 47% of the voters from this age group. PTI popularity reduces gradually in higher age groups. PMLN got 49% votes from age group 22-35 years as against 41% by PTI. PMLN was able to attract 53% voter from age group 36-50 years. PTI share remained 33% in this age group. PMLN biggest support came from age group above 65, where they were able to bag 66% of the polled votes as against PTI share of 24%

PMLN was also able to reverse the trends among occupational groups. The penetration among students group is striking where they were able to attract 73% of the students as against 22% by PTI. Students are normally considered as PTI largest vote bank, but the exit poll survey showed different trends. PTI largest support came from housewives. 41% of housewives voted for PTI as against 5% by PMLN

About CED: CED is a civil society coalition for voter education, election observation and strengthening democratic institutions. Its secretariat is based at CPDI


Coalition for Election and Democracy
601 | Abu Dhabi Towers | Block B | F-11 Markaz | Islamabad | Pakistan
Tel: +92 (0) 51-8312794, 8312795 Fax +92 (0) 51 844 36 33

Election Observation Preliminary Report (Opening Process) PP-20 (Chakwal-I)

 

Election Observation Preliminary Report (Opening Process) PP-20 (Chakwal-I)

Tuesday (January 9, 2018)

This is a preliminary report issued by Coalition for Elections and Democracy (CED) for observing the by-election at PP-20 (Chakwal I). Total number of Registered voters in the constituency is 279530 including 144191 male voters and 135339 female voters. Total number of polling stations set up in the constituency is 227 with 814 polling booths, 421 for male voters and 393 for female voters. This report presents the observation of the opening process of polling in the constituency.

The observation teams reached the designated polling stations at 7:30 am to assess the preparedness of the polling staff and to observe the opening process. At all the sampled polling stations ECP staff cooperated with the CED teams; they were allowed to enter the premises and observe the proceedings.

At the approach of the pooling stations the observers noted the environment outside the polling station. Voter enthusiasm was observed to be moderate in the morning and observers did not report long queues of voters outside the gate before opening of the voting.

Situation outside the polling station before the start of the polling was generally calm and no incident of violence was reported, the security forces were in good control of the security arrangements.

The polling staff was present on majority of the sampled polling stations at the starting time. However, at PS#196 a female polling officer and at PS#114 a male polling officer was absent when polling started. Female polling stations have been provided with female staff; however only 25% of the sampled combined polling stations had female presiding officer.

Starting time of the polling is 8 am however 34% of the sampled polling stations started late. Out of those polling stations that started late, the delay of 11-30 minutes was observed at 67% and 31-60 minutes at 33% pooling stations. Major cause of delay was unpreparedness of staff and late arrival of some staff members.

The polling station lay out at the start of the polling was found to be suitable for voting at 89% sampled polling stations while 11% reported issues of insufficient space for instance polling set up established in the corridor of the building instead of rooms.

Sufficient essential polling material i.e. ballot boxes, secrecy screens, seals, indelible ink, voters’ lists etc. was present at all the sampled polling stations at the start of the polling.

The CED observers reported that the ECP staff followed opening procedure at majority of the sampled polling stations. The empty ballot boxes were shown at all polling stations and were sealed in clear view of polling agents and observers. The polling started at all polling booths in presence of the polling agents from major political parties. The CED observers were allowed to observe the opening process without any restrictions. At 56% of sampled polling stations, observers were satisfied that opening procedure was followed completely.

The CED observers noted that the opening process generally remained calm and no untoward incident was reported at the sampled polling stations; no formal complaint was lodged during the opening process. However, the observers noted presence of unauthorized persons inside some polling stations before start of the polling. At polling stations #84 and 104 office bearers of a major political party were seen inside the premises and the polling staff did not ask them to leave, reported the CED observers.

The observers reported their satisfaction about cooperation of the PS staff. At 100% sampled polling stations the observers were allowed to observe the opening procedure without restriction. The CED observers rated conduct of the PS staff to be good at 56% and very good at 44% of the sampled polling stations.

About CED: CED is a civil society coalition for voter education, election observation and strengthening democratic institutions. Its secretariat is based at CPDI

Coalition for Election and Democracy
601 | Abu Dhabi Towers | Block B | F-11 Markaz | Islamabad | Pakistan
Tel: +92 (0) 51-8312794, 8312795 Fax +92 (0) 51 844 36 33

The making of shadow budget

Pakistani political parties have been preparing shadow budgets since 2012-13, but in isolation and without yielding fruitful results. What do they need to change to make this exercise meaningful?

 
The making of shadow budget
The preparation of shadow budgets by opposition parties, think tanks and civil society organisations has become a norm in the developed world over the last quarter of a century. These alternative budgets offer analysis and perspective on what the government budget should contain in terms of spending and revenue generation. In short, a shadow budget offers an alternative vision to deal with the macroeconomic challenges faced by a country, province, state, district or city.

Ideally, a shadow budget should follow the format of the government budget and extend beyond a wish list; proper costing of all the proposed measures is the foremost prerequisite. For example, presenting a shadow budget that proposes tax cuts or new development schemes without identifying the sources of additional revenue shall be an exercise in futility. Lately, the focus of civil society organisations has shifted to sectoral shadow budgets (health, education, agriculture, etc.) in line with their areas of expertise because preparing a shadow federal budget requires efforts that may extend beyond their mandate.

The MQM has been advocating the imposition of agriculture tax and withdrawal of agricultural subsidies since its first shadow budget while the PPP and PTI both agree that farmers should be given more incentives.

It may come as a surprise, but shadow budgets are not a new phenomenon in Pakistan. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) pioneered the trend in the country by presenting shadow federal budget 2012-13.To its credit, the MQM has issued a shadow federal budget before the presentation of the federal budget ever since, though political rivals are quick to point out that the party solicits the services of experts for the purpose.

Following in the MQM’s footsteps, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) presented shadow federal budget 2015-16; however, it discontinued the practice in subsequent years probably because, in the words of its opposition leader in Punjab Assembly Mian Mehmood-ur-Rasheed, “It is useless to work on shadow budget since it is never implemented.” The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) joined the bandwagon when it presented federal shadow budget 2017-18. Moreover, the MQM and PTI presented shadow Sindh budget 2015-16, while the former also presented shadow Sindh budget 2016-17.

An analysis of the shadow budgets presented by these political parties shows that, despite some disagreements, they have more or less the same solution to offer to meet Pakistan’s burgeoning macroeconomic challenges: broadening the tax base, reforming the Federal Board of Revenue and plugging the loopholes in tax collection. The PPP envisages that the government can raise as much as Rs300 billion a year through widening the tax base. The MQM’s estimate, in comparison, is liberal since it is in the region of Rs750 billion a year. On the other hand, the PTI estimates the untapped income tax potential to be just Rs100 billion.

Interestingly, while the MQM and PTI agree that general sales tax (GST) should be reduced from the current 17 per cent to 9 per cent and 12.5 per cent, respectively, the PPP does not even mention GST in its shadow budget. Though both the MQM and PTI have identified additional sources of revenue to cater to the resulting shortfall, their planning can at best be called ambitious. Probably the experience of being in power in the Centre has helped the PPP adopt a more realistic approach and not resort to populist measures.

The MQM has been advocating the imposition of agriculture tax and withdrawal of agricultural subsidies since its first shadow budget (the party estimates in its latest shadow federal budget that the revenue potential under this head is to the tune of Rs173 billion); while the PPP and PTI both agree that farmers should be given more incentives, apparently not to displease their rural voters. Similarly, while the MQM has proposed to reduce the defence budget in all six of its shadow federal budgets, the PTI proposed increasing the same in its only shadow federal budget.

Despite decent homework, the shadow budgets presented by the MQM are populist in nature to say the least. In its first shadow budget, the party proposed that the prices of essential food items be considerably reduced (flour by 50 per cent, yellow lentils by 30 per cent, mutton by 20 per cent, etc.), but without telling how this would be made possible. In its latest shadow budget (2017-18), the MQM has revised some of these figures (for example, now it proposes reduction in the prices of flour by 25 per cent) but still not made it clear how it plans to achieve this target.

Almost along same lines, the PTI’s shadow federal budget 2015-16 is removed from reality and seems like handiwork of some ivory tower economist. In comparison, the PPP’s shadow federal budget 2017-18 — despite being suggestions-based rather than employing the format of the federal budget — is more grounded in reality and does not evoke false hopes among the masses.

Along with political parties, Pakistani civil society organisations and donor agencies are also taking increasing interest in shadow budgets. With Oxfam’s support, Indus Consortium and Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives are preparing Layyah district’s shadow budget for 2018-19. “Since 2014, Oxfam International is engaged in “Even It Up”, a global campaign aimed at shifting the terms of debate around inequality. In Pakistan, we are closely watching out fiscal spaces, including revenue raising and spending on education, health and social protection,” says Asim Jaffry, the manager of Finance for Development Project, a component of Even It Up campaign.

Jaffry adds that the desire to hook up “our work in Pakistan with the Even It Up campaign leverages us to work on shadow budget,” so that evidence could be generated from the district to provincial level to sensitise the policymakers and legislators. He believes that civil society organisations should form an alliance and chip in their resources to prepare shadow budgets because of the lack of capacity at all levels, from strategic to tactical.

Based on the international experience of shadow budgeting, a few suggestions for Pakistani political parties and civil society organisations to make their shadow budgets more meaningful are as follows:

All opposition parties should jointly prepare a single shadow budget, as well as commit to implement the same whenever elected to power. They should also involve civil society organisations, policy institutes and electorate in the process.

Actual budgetary figures of the last fiscal year should be used as baseline not estimates or revised estimates, because the latter are normally off-the-mark.

The available resource envelope should be kept in sight to avoid going overboard while making recommendations.

The shadow budget should be presented at least two weeks ahead of the budget to give the government a chance to adopt its suggestions.

The work on shadow budgets should start much in advance than it usually does. Ideally, the government’s budget calendar should be followed.

Sectoral experts in education, health, climate change, social protection, etc. should be involved for coming up with realistic cost estimates and setting achievable targets.

The shadow budgets should also identify focus within sectors such as education and health.

 

“Our only hope lies in increasing exports and tax-to-GDP ratio”

The News on Sunday spoke to Senate Committee on Finance, Revenue, Economics Affairs and Narcotics Chairperson Saleem Mandviwalla, who is also the architect of the PPP’s shadow federal budget 2017-18, to solicit his view on the efficacy of the exercise and the party’s future plans. Excerpts follow:

The News on Sunday: What has been the government, civil society and media’s response to the PPP’s shadow federal budget 2017-18?

Saleem Mandviwalla: Shadow budgets do not evoke much response from the government or civil society. Even the media did not give our shadow budget adequate coverage because of limited viewer interest in the topic.

TNS: The PPP’s shadow budget 2017-18 envisaged 4 million new tax filers over the next five years. Was this a realistic figure?

SM: Pakistan’s major problem is tax-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio. We have a population of 210 million and direct taxpayers hardly number two to three per cent, thus there is a huge potential in this area. In the PPP’s last term (2008-13), we generated 3 million potential taxpayers who travelled by air and owned property, but still did not pay a single rupee in direct taxes. The PPP brought a tax amendment bill in 2013, but we could not pass it because of the opposition of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). If we come to power after elections next year, we will again introduce this bill in the parliament. Our main target is to bring tax-to-GDP ratio to 15 per cent. We believe that tools are available to the government to achieve the target of 4 million new taxpayers over the next five years, but political will and proper administration are required.

TNS: Does the PPP plan to prepare shadow federal budget 2018-19? If yes, when would the process start and how the views of citizens and experts would be solicited?

SM: Yes, we will try to prepare shadow federal budget for the next fiscal year and the process will start in February or March. We would welcome suggestions and inputs from all experts and citizens, though our only hope lies in increasing exports and tax-to-GDP ratio. Personally, I do not see much hope in other areas since I look at the budget practically, unlike others who go for cosmetic ideas and suggestions.

TNS: Will the PPP identify alternative sources of revenue to cater to the policy recommendations in its shadow federal budget 2018-19?

SM: We would love to find alternative sources of revenue. By not increasing taxes, the PML-N government has destroyed the economy and put an additional burden of more than Rs900 billion on it during the past four-and-a-half years. We are open to ideas from everyone but we also want to see how feasible are these ideas. We do not want to come up with a wish list like other political parties do in their shadow budgets and manifestos.

http://tns.thenews.com.pk/making-shadow-budget/#.WktwxkuYPBK

1.7m workers in Punjab deprived of pension, old age grants

ISLAMABAD: More than 1.7 million workers in Punjab are deprived of their pension and old age grant as they don’t have social security coverage, data obtained through the Punjab RTI Law reveals.

The official data received from Punjab Employees Social Security Institution (PESSI) under the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013 reveals that seven out of 20 regions in Punjab have more than 2.6 million workers registered with it. However, out of 2.6 million, more than 1.7 million workers don’t have social security.

According to the PESSI data, the lowest percentage of workers having their social security coverage are from Lahore (Gulberg Region). Out of the total 78,479 workers registered with PESSI in this region, only 7,107 (9 percent) have their social security covered, whereas the remaining 71,372 registered workers have no social security. There are five regions in Lahore and three of them have not provided data of the workers registered with them.

The second lowest percentage of workers having social security coverage are from Bahawalpur region. As per the official data of Bahawalpur region, only 4,939 (19.44 percent) out of 25,398 workers have their social security covered.

Similarly, in Sheikhupura region, total 36,255 workers are registered with PEasSSI, however, only 13,576 have their social security and the remaining 22,679 workers have no social security coverage. The data received from Gujrat region shows that 8,337 (45.56 percent) of the total 18,295 have social security, whereas the remaining 9,958 workers are working without social security coverage.

On April 24, 2017, a citizen Raza Ali filed an RTI request in all 20 regions of Punjab regarding provision of certified information about total number of workers in the province and total number of workers having coverage of social security. However, after passage of almost nine months, only seven regions have provided the required information, whereas the remaining 13 regions are yet to provide the information.

In accordance with the constitutional provision of Article 38, the government started a

social insurance scheme in Pakistan for the private sector employees. Under this scheme, four types of benefits are provided to the workers which include old-age pension (or reduced pension), survivors’ pension, invalidity pension and old-age grant (if an employee is not eligible for pension).

The Govt of Pakistan had promulgated the Employees’ Old-age Pensions Ordinance in 1972. However, this was never implemented. Later on, in 1976, this was substituted with an act of Parliament, called Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Act, 1976. This social insurance system was started to achieve the objective of Article 38 (c) of the Constitution.

The Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Act is applicable on all firms (industrial or commercial, including banks) where five or more workers, whether contractual or regular, are employed or were employed during past 12 months. The laws remain applicable even if the number of persons employed is subsequently reduced to less than five. The business with less than five employees can get their employees registered with EOBI on voluntary basis.

The top management of Punjab Employees Social Security Institution (PESSI) said they have issued show cause notices to the employers and directed them to issue their workers social security cards. The management further responded that a campaign have been launched time to time for speedy processing of social security cards of the secured workers. Similarly, mobile teams are sent to various big establishments for processing of SS cards of workers. According to the PESSI management challan U/S 66 have been lodged against the employers of the units who failed to procure the social security cards in respect of their workers.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/255455-1-7m-workers-in-punjab-deprived-of-pension-old-age-grants

CPDI urges Sindh govt to set up consumer courts

KARACHI: The Sindh Government has so far failed to meet its legal obligation regarding the establishment of consumer courts in the province, said Amer Ejaz, Executive Director, Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI)

According to a press release, he said that the residents of Sindh have no legal forum to resort to if any enterprise violates their rights as a consumer.

Urging the Sindh government to establish the consumer courts at the earliest, Ejaz said once the consumer courts are established in all the districts of the province, they would punish shopkeepers involved in specific violation with regard to the prices, quality and quantity, leading to a relatively friendlier environment for the consumers.

He stated that the Sindh Consumer Protection Act, 2014 was enacted as a law in February 2015, but the government has failed to establish the consumers’ courts, while on the other hand, the other provinces have already established consumer courts that are now dealing with consumer problems according to the law of the land.

The CPDI executive director further said that the consumer courts could protect the citizens from fraud, eradicate corruption and help in creating a consumer-friendly environment in the province.

The government, he added, was supposed to establish district and sessions courts in all districts of the province to solve the problems of the consumers as per the Sindh Consumer Protection Act.

General consumer issues can be directly taken to the consumer courts, which can summon the vendors.

The consumers will only have to write an application to the court; they will not need to hire an advocate to plead their case, he added.

Under the food authority, commissioner of every division in Sindh will depute deputy commissioners who will further check prices, quality of general items; if something is found defective or expired, they would impose fine on the vendor and send the cases to the consumers’ court.

CPDI urges Sindh govt to set up consumer courts