KARACHI -  The Sindh Cabinet on Saturday approved the Sindh Women Agricultural Workers Draft Bill-2019 under which women working in agriculture, livestock, fisheries and other related fields will be entitled to all rights and benefits, which industrial workers are getting.

This approval was accorded in the cabinet meeting held under the chairmanship of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah at the New Sindh Secretariat. The meeting was attended by Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, all provincial ministers, advisers and other officials concerned.

Shah said over three quarters of women workers were in the agriculture sector in the country. “Over half of these women are reported as unpaid family helpers,” he said. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto has emphasized the need for supporting women agricultural workers, he said. The bill was presented by Sindh Labour Department in the cabinet and Minister for Labour Saeed Ghani shared its main features with the cabinet. The chief minister termed its approval as a historic decision and realization of Banezir Bhutto’s dream of women empowerment.

The draft bill says that woman agricultural worker shall receive pay in cash or in kind for any agricultural work undertaken individually, or as part of a family unit, on land and livestock belonging to her own family, or someone else which shall be equal to pay received by male workers for same work.

“The pay to a woman agricultural worker shall not be less than the minimum wages fixed by the government from time to time and working day shall not exceed eight working hours and shall not commence until one hour after day break. The worker shall also be entitled to 90 days of maternity leave.

The law gives a woman worker the right to access government agricultural, livestock, fisheries and other services, credit, social security, subsidies and asset transfers in her own individual right or in association with other women agricultural workers. A woman worker shall receive a written contract of employment if she demands. The new law also gives women workers the right of collective bargaining, social welfare, including child health, community development, economic profit and access to publicly supplied goods and services.

REGISTRATION: The government through labour department will register women agricultural workers at the union council level. The registered women would be given Benazir Card and card holders will be able to make their group or association. BWSO: The Sindh government shall set up Benazir Women’s Support Organisation (BWSO) under labour department with an Endowment Fund to provide technical and financial assistance to women workers. The organization would register women, issue them cards and make their data base for their support.

DEFINITION: In the draft law agriculture has been defined as “all activities related to cultivation of crops, animal husbandry, poultry, livestock rearing, apiculture, gardening, fishing, aquaculture, sericulture, vermiculture, horticulture, floriculture, agro-forestry, or any other farming activity carried out through self-employment, tenurial cultivation, shared cropping, or other types of cultivation, collection, use and sale of minor or non-timber forest produced by virtue of ownership rights.

The cabinet approved the bill and referred it to the provincial assembly.

REGULARIZATION OF EMPLOYEES: The health department presented a case of 83 employees, including faculty of Khairpur Medical College, for regularisation of services. Special assistant to CM Nawab Wassan said the matter was very serious as entire staff of the college, including teachers, have been working on a contract basis since 2013. The future of the students was on stake.

Minister for Health Dr Azra Pechuho said that out of 183 employees 55 were professors, associate professors, lecturers, therefore she recommended their regularization. The cabinet members supported the proposal and approved the regularisation of all the employees.

HOSPITAL MANAGEMENT BOARD BILL: The Sindh Cabinet also approved another important draft bill called “Sindh Teaching Hospitals (Establishment of Management Board) Act-2019. The law shall apply to all teaching hospitals, which would operate through a Management Board. The Vice Chancellor or Principal of the medical College will be chairperson of the board. The powers and functions of the board include approving and monitoring overall plan, policies and programmes of the hospitals with a view to upgrading hospital services and facilities in conformity with government policy.

The board will have the power to approve development and recurring budgets, prepare detailed regulations and procedure for financial management. The board shall also evaluate examine and approve the annual and periodic reports of teaching hospitals. It will also have the authority to assess and review the charge in form of fees for admission, clinical and procedural service and facilities.

 

A fund would be established under the title of Teaching Hospital Management Board Fund which would be utilized by the board.

 

FOOD FORTIFICATION: The food department presented a “The Sindh Food Fortification Bill 2019” in the cabinet with the background that Pakistan is noted to be suffering from malnutrition and it is rated as having one of the worst rates of malnutrition.

The 2018 National Nutrition Survey says that micronutrition deficiency is the major contributing factors. Half of the women and children are far below the acceptable levels of nutrition. Iron, Folic Acid, Lodine, Zinc, Vitamin A & B are major micronutrient deficiencies. The poor nutrition in childhood has profound effects on immunity, growth and cognitive development.

Sharing food fortification strategy, the food department said food fortification pertains to the addition of key vitamins and minerals for example Iron, Acid Zink, Vitamin B-12, Iodine, Vitamin A & D staple foods to prevent nutritional deficiencies. The food fortification provides a nutritional benefit without requiring consumes to change eating habits or purchase patterns. Wheat flour fortification with Iron, Folic Acid, Zink and Vitamin B-12 costs 25 paisa per kg or Rs5 per 20kg bag.

 

The cabinet approved mandatory legislation for complete mechanism for micronutrients, registration of manufacturer and importer of these foods, warranties, quality assurance, packing, labelling, transportation, storage and display.

 

Sindh Food Authority will have sufficient powers for enforcement and implementation of this law. The cabinet approved the proposed law and directed food department to present a detailed draft bill in the next cabinet.

 

The Boards: VC of University or Principal will be chairman and Secretary health or his representative, secretary Finance or is representative, DCs concerned, Dean of medical & allied clinical sciences affiliated with the university/college, a retired eminent health professor, prominent member of civil society, medical superintendent of hospital and director admn will be the members.

 

The cabinet also approved constitution of 62-member Provincial Advisory Council for empowerment of persons with disabilities. The council shall advise the government on policies, programmes, legislation and projects with respect to disabilities. It shall develop take up the cause of the persons with disabilities with concerned authorities.

 

The Sindh Cabinet also approved appointed an eight-member Sindh Minimum Wage Board, 14 member board of Governing body of Sindh Employees Social security Institution (SESSI) under the chairmanship of Minister Labour

 

TRAUMA CENTER: The health department told the cabinet that the Dr Yasmin Kharal, the In-charge of the Shaheed Mohterma Benazir Bhutto Institute of Trauma Centre Karachi has retired. Therefore, she may be appointed as Executive Director. The cabinet discussed her qualification and re-employment issues and then authorized Minister Health to appoint any grade BS-20 doctor as incharge of the Trauma Centre and then through a proper procedure appoint a full-time executive director of the centre.   

 

SKAA: The cabinet also approved a Rs477.327 million budget of Sindh Katchi Abadis Authority for year 2018-19 and also approved its budget of Rs464.237 million for year 2017-18. The chief minister directed Minister SKAA to revamp his department and come up with an ambitious plan to upgrade residential facilities in katchi abadis and reconstruct those located in slump areas.

 

Forest policy: The cabinet constituted a committee under Minister Forest Nasir Shah, Minister Agriculture Ismail Rahu, Minister Mines & Mineral, Advisor to CM Murtaza Wahab to frame a Sustainable Forest Management Policy-2019. The committee was authorised to induct retired forest experts in their committee for technical support. The committee would submit its recommendations within 15 days.