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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari Saturday lashed out at the “heartless” Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government for laying off over 4,500 employees of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), and vowed to restore them once his party came into power.

In a tweet, Bilawal said, “The heartless government’s sacked 4500 workers of Pakistan Steel Mills. PPP will return each & everyone back to work. The land of this historical industrial asset belongs to the people of Sindh, we will not let the PTI get away with this economic murder. Sack Imran not workers.” Meanwhile, Parliamentary Leader of the PPP in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman said, “The decision of sacking employees with immediate effect under the guise of reducing financial burden on Pakistan's largest steel-making plant should be immediately taken back. We are going through a pandemic and taking away livelihoods should be the last thing that the government should be doing.

‘This decision reeks of ulterior motives...’: Sherry

“This decision reeks of ulterior motives as it is clear that the government wants to sell PSM. On one hand, the PM talks about reviving state institutions and on the other, his cabinet is taking such decisions. We are going through unprecedented times and firing people during this pandemic is cruel. The government should be focusing on providing relief instead.”

Sherry Rehman added, “Tabahi Sarkar has once again taken a U-turn from their promises. Instead of creating the 100 crore jobs they are taking away livelihoods at a time when food insecurity is the highest in Pakistan. We rank 88th out of the 107 countries in the 2020 Global Hunger Index.

“According to the IMF, close to 90 million people are expected to fall into extreme deprivation this year while Pakistan’s unemployment rate is expected to rise to 5.1%. It will be the highest level the country has faced in its at least 30 years. How can the federal government fire employees in a time of extreme inflation and unprecedented levels of unemployment?”

The PPP senator also said, “This abrupt, brutal and unethical move clearly reflects the federal government’s myopia and disregard for democratic norms and consultations. There are millions whose livelihood is indirectly connected to the Pakistan Steel Mills. It should have been discussed transparently and constructively with at least the stakeholders.?

"In the World Economic Outlook (WEO) report of 2020, the IMF projected Pakistan’s growth rate at only 1%, which is the lowest in the region. How is our economy improving again?"

“Privatizing institutions is not the solution as it is obvious that the government is doing it to hide its incompetence. Instead of providing relief and support, the federal government is adamant on firing employees in times of job uncertainty. The PPP rejects this move. The same incompetence has led to severe wheat and sugar shortages in the country.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020