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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Cabinet has decided to defer decision with respect to increase in K-electric tariff till next week, and directed that the master plan for major cities should be prepared to avert problems.

Addressing a press briefing after the cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz cited the suggestions by some members that this was not an appropriate time for increase in K-electric tariff for the consumers of the rain-affected city, and directed the Ministry of Power to come up with some kind of mechanism on the issue.

The minister said that K-electric tariff was over Rs 4 less as compared to other parts of the country, and the decision to make it uniform with other parts of the country had been delayed for one week, with a directive to find out a mechanism.

He said the gas tariffs had been fixed and were not increased.

Faraz added that the prime minister attached high importance to the power sector, and the pension and power sector required some "dramatic" steps, which the government was trying to undertake. "Despite limited leverage, the government was trying to resolve it," he said, adding that the government also wanted to secure the pensioner through some kind of mechanism.

The minister stated that the government was proposing an amendment to the electoral act that a time period for taking oath, which could be 60 to 80 days, instead of delaying it for an indefinite period.

Another important highlight of the cabinet meeting was that whether Islamabad or other areas master plans were not being followed in construction activities.

He said neither illegal construction nor construction in green areas was acceptable to the government.

He said the cabinet has decided to restore green areas and 90 acres of land in green areas on which a jail was being constructed in the federal capital. "Green areas would be restored by demolishing it, and the department whether the CDA or the PWD, whoever was responsible, would be taken to task, he added. The minister said no doubt that jail was needed for the capital city but this did not mean that jail would not be constructed. "With the consultation of Supreme Court, Islamabad High Court and relevant stakeholders, alternate areas would be made available for it," he added.

He said that so far Rs1.5 billion was spent on the project and total cost was projected at Rs12 billion.

The green areas would be protected and no illegal construction would be allowed in these areas.

The minister said the decision would send a strong message to everyone including those authorities who had allowed illegal constructions.

He said that the master plan of every city was important due to fast urbanization in order to avert problems.

The government's request to parents and school administrations is to follow the Covid-19 SOPs, so that economic and social activities were not hampered.

The government also approved retail prices of some medicines ahead of winter season.

He said that now this was the time that some definite legislation should be undertaken to address the motorway like (gang-rape) incidents, and pledged that the government would bring in an effective legislation in the given possibilities to make a strict legislation.

The minister was optimistic that something concrete would develop at the end of the ongoing Senate's and National Assembly's sessions with regard to legislation against such crimes "and the government would not care how it would be considered by the Western countries."

He added that sugar was being imported by private importers and its arrival in the country by the end of the current month would help reduce the prices of the commodity, and likewise, the wheat arrival would also help reduce the price of wheat flour.

The minister blamed the "mafia" for the price hike.

The minister said that Nawaz Sharif should come back, if he had any regard for the law and the Constitution, instead of trying to run away from the country. He said there should be one law for every citizen without any discrimination.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020