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ISLAMABAD: The Council of Common Interests (CCI), which is scheduled to meet on Wednesday (today) with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair, will decide on notification of controversial results of census conducted in 2017. In this regard, on Tuesday, the Prime Minister chaired a pre-CCI meeting to finalise federal government's strategy on the expected questions from the provincial government, especially Sindh and Balochistan.

MQM (Pakistan), Jamaat-e-Islami and the Sindh government have already expressed their concerns on the results of the census which, according to these parties, has shown population of Karachi far less than actual population.

The meeting will be attended by the AJ&K prime minister and provincial chief ministers along with teams of concerned Ministers. The CCI will take up Nepra's Annual Report 2019-20 and State of Industry Report 2020, which noted that the performance of power sector is far behind international standards, suggesting different measures to improve the sector.

The CCI is expected to discuss planned privatisation of power Distribution Companies (Discos) with management control and Power Division is in talks with the Sindh government for taking over Hesco and Sepco. The issue of PSM's privatisation may also be taken up by the Sindh government. The Sindh government is also expected to raise the issue of inordinate delay in renewable energy projects by the federal government agencies.

According to sources, amendments in the Petroleum (Exploration & Production) Policy 2012, incentives for conversion to Petroleum Policy vis-a-vis Tight Gas Policy, are also on the agenda of CCI. Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) will brief the Council about its future plans, including proposed incentives for exploration and refineries. The Cabinet Division, Petroleum Division, High Education Commission(HEC), Finance Division, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination and Science and Technology will share implementation status of the following decisions taken by the CCI in the previous meeting: (i) Nepra's Annual Report 2018-19 and State of Industry Report, 2019; (ii) import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG); (iii) implementation of Article 158 and 172(3) of the Constitution; (iv) amendments in the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), Ordinance 2012; (v) windfall levy on crude oil, condensate and natural gas under the Petroleum Policy, 2012; (vi) matters pertaining to higher education in post-18th Amendment scenario; (vii) funding of devolved vertical programmes of health and population welfare; and (viii) harmonization of standards and enforcement mechanism between Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) and provincial food authorities.

Although the procurement of Covid-19 vaccine is not on the agenda of CCI, there is a strong possibility that the Sindh government will take up this issue as provincial government has sought permission time and again to import the vaccine, a request which the federal government has not entertained so far.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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