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ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet has decided to form an inter-ministerial committee to “reveal” the facts and important points with a view to exposing the individuals who had stolen the assets of the country and parked the money abroad in light of latest “revelations” in the Broadsheet case.

This was stated by the Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Shibli Faraz, while speaking at a news conference after the cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and others have influenced the inquiry to save their own skin and now the government under Prime Minister Imran Khan has decided to make those names public after thorough scrutiny,” he added.

The committee would “expose” those individuals who have stolen the nation's wealth and dragged the country into litigation which has caused great embarrassment.

He said the committee will share its own findings soon.

He said that the Broadsheet issue started from 2000 and when Pakistan Muslim League (N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) were given an “NRO”, the case was consigned to cold storage.

He said the case was about 200 people who had transferred stolen assets/wealth aboard.

The minister said the prime minister also instructed the formulation of a policy within 15 days to address the shortage of wheat and other food items in the country, and suggest the government as to what legal measure can be taken, so that no province could create shortage of any commodity by withholding the release of stocks as “what was done by the Sindh government”. He said the federal government was of the view that “flaws” in the 18th Amendment must be highlighted as the government is only against some flaws in the amendment.

He said the number of federal employees still increased despite the transfer of various departments and ministries to the provinces.

The pension system needs to be fixed too, he said, while adding the government does not have enough funds to pay pensions of employees of a few government departments. About the Raast digital payment system, the minister said it would reduce human interference in payments.

This would lead to ensuring greater transparency and making the system faster, he added.

The federal cabinet was informed that sale of smuggled and illegal oil is causing a Rs180 billion loss to the national exchequer and it is inflicting a huge social loss on environment as well.

So far, 192 petrol stations involved in trading illegal and smuggled oil have been sealed, and action has been started across the country, and the owners of these stations have been given one week time to give their response in relation to their purchase and sale details.

“Once it is determined their properties would be attached as more than 2,094 fuel pumps are selling illegal and hazardous oil,” he said, adding that legal action will continue.

The meeting was informed that those involved in the sale of smuggled and illegal oil have been identified.

Adviser to prime minister on institutional reforms and austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain informed the cabinet meeting that more than 100 departments of the federal government have been merged to reduce the financial burden on the national exchequer as well as to improve their performance. The meeting was also informed that digitalization process is being introduced in the Accountant General of Pakistan Revenue (AGPR) which would help reduce the incidence financial corruption. The cabinet approved legal amendments to make the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) more autonomous and transparent.

These amendments would help bring about innovation in the system of audit, use of digital system, and act of expert action would be possible.

The federal cabinet approved terms of appointment under Legal and Justice Authority Act 2020 of director general, and the authority would provide legal assistance in getting justice to the deserving and weak segments of society.

The federal cabinet also authorised to give the FIA Commercial Bank Circle Lahore the status of a police station as per the FIA Act 1974, and following the approval, this police station’s jurisdiction would be expanded to Lahore, Kasur, Sheikhpura, Nankana Sahib, and Okara. Moreover, legal action against banking crimes would be possible.

The federal cabinet also approved appointment of members and administrator of the National Tib Council.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan informed the meeting that a law is being introduced against the reuse of needles and syringes.

The federal cabinet allowed replacement of government ex-officio on board of directors of public sector companies operating under the Petroleum Division, and decided to hand over the issue of construction by the Ministry of Railways in Nowshera to a committee that would comprise Law Minister, Education Minister, Railways and Defence ministers.

The cabinet also allowed constitution of board of governors of the Pakistan Council of Science and Technology.

The federal cabinet ratified the decisions of Cabinet Committee on Institutional Reforms of 17th December 2020, Cabinet Committee on Privatization January 4, 2021, and the ECC meeting January 6, 2021.

The cabinet meeting expressed its concern over missing persons and directed to make law to do away with disappearances.

The federal cabinet also allowed reconstitution of board of directors of the Utility Stores Corporations and allowed appointment of Rangers to maintain law and order in by-election in Sindh.

Shibli said that Planning Minister Asad Umar raised the Osama Satti murder case in the cabinet meeting and Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his strong displeasure and annoyance over the death of the Islamabad youth in the police firing.

The federal cabinet assured the parents of Osama Satti of legal action and provision of justice, and if the deceased’s family is not satisfied with the JIT investigation report the government would conduct an inquiry as per their desire.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021