• Cabinet says comportment being displayed by PDM to put 'immense pressure' on hospitals
ISLAMABAD: The federal government said on Tuesday that the Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDM) would not be stopped from holding a public meeting at Lahore; however, it warned that those who would "instigate" people's participation in public meetings would face strict action.
This was stated by Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz while speaking at a media briefing along with Dr Faisal Sultan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health, about the decisions take by the federal cabinet presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The minister regretted that "irresponsible" attitude of the PDM leadership would endanger the lives/livelihoods of people and put immense pressure on hospitals following a spike in coronavirus cases due to such public gatherings during the second wave of the pandemic.
He said opposition leaders, especially Maryam Nawaz, speak nothing but "lies" at the PDM gatherings and "we shall soon expose that through details".
In response to a question, the minister flatly ruled out a complete lockdown to prevent opposition from holding public gatherings, and stated that the government could not even imagine hurting the economy and the poor by taking such a step.
Adviser on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said the federal cabinet was taken into confidence about the progress made as well as the criteria adopted for the selection of coronavirus vaccine.
He said that the federal cabinet approved US $150 million for the vaccine, and added that the efficiency, protection safety as well cost and other factors would be taken into consideration for the procurement of coronavirus vaccine, and in the first phase, people over the age of 60 would be given preference.
Faisal Sultan said that some companies had been shortlisted and a preliminary discussion had been started with them.
He said there was a possibility that the vaccine would be available in the first quarter of 2021.
A cabinet committee was also requested to make the progress transparent.
The cabinet was also informed of opinions of experts with respect to coronavirus vaccine.
The cabinet underscoring the need for adopting early modalities for procurement of vaccine for coronavirus. It said that there is need that the entire nation should follow the SOPs and discipline, during the second wave as well, otherwise, the country would be in great trouble owing to a difficult economic situation in terms of jobs and hospitals.
Pakistan's efforts during the first wave of Covid-19 were acknowledged by the world.
The cabinet also approved reduction the price of medicine to treat coronavirus - remdesivir 100mg- from Rs9,244 to Rs5,680.
The minister said the cabinet was apprised of the latest development of the Ravi and Bundal Island projects.
It was informed that investors have expressed their full satisfaction on the steps taken towards promotion of the construction sector by Prime Minister Imran Khan; therefore, they are willing to invest in these mega projects.
He said the forum was informed that those projects were planned to keep environment clean and attract foreign investment, adding that hundreds of thousand of jobs would be created through increased construction activities.
He said that Ravi River project would be a modern city and attract foreign investment. According to him, $60 billion foreign direct investment has been projected for the Bundle Island. The projects equipped with technology, would certainly benefit the Sindh province, creating new job opportunities for local people.
Ten million trees will also be planted, which will be a part of these projects.
The minister for information said that the PDM Multan public meeting was a violation of court's orders and the NCOC recommendations, adding that the Multan rally might result in spread of coronavirus.
The minister said that when in some countries there was either curfew or lockdown, the PDM in Pakistan was playing with the lives and livelihoods of people.
PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz's speech was based on "total lies", he added.
The federal cabinet also granted permission to the defence ministry to proceed with Pakistan Navy Engineering College and also endorsed signing an MoU with Yildiz Technical University Turkey.
The cabinet approved the appointment of Muhammad Naeem Akhtar as chief executive officer of the Postal Life Insurance Company.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2020