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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Cabinet, in order to ensure timely decisions about basic food items in the country, demand and supply, assessment of prices, transportation and further strengthening of cooperation between the federal and provincial governments, on Tuesday approved the establishment of a Centralised Database.

Prime Minister Imran Khan presided over the meeting, which also accorded an in-principle approval to the proposed law for the establishment of the Central Database.

The federal cabinet said the government is working on introducing electronic voting machines (EVMs) and inggrant overseas Pakistanis the right to vote via internet-based mode.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, while briefing the media at the Parliament House in Islamabad about the decisions taken in the federal cabinet, said Prime Minister Imran Khan is very keen about electoral reforms in the country and it was informed that Pakistan has completed the technological part of EVMs, while its rules are yet to be decided.

Besides manufacturing of EVMs in Pakistan, two machines have been imported from abroad, he added.

The minister said Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad and Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Dr Noorul Haq Qadri briefed the cabinet about talks with the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).

He said the cabinet discussed the need of a countrywide centralised database about supply and demand of edible items in the country to avert any kind of shortage in this regard.

Fawad said the cabinet allowed transportation of containers pertaining to the United Nations Children's Fund from Karachi to Kabul on a UNICEF's request.

He said the cabinet approved appointment of Zaheer Abbas Khokhar as chairman of Pakistan Baitul Maal.

About senior PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, he said, “Shahid Khaqan does not know how to address the Speaker and his attitude is always hypocritical. This former PM adopted the attitude of a bully in today’s National Assembly session”.

Fawad said that “Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ahsan Iqbal, and Maulana Fazlur Rehman, are not fighting for Islam but for Islamabad; they have tried their level best to overthrow the government but now they are dejected.”

He said: “the government-TLP agreement has been completed; now the resolution will be discussed because the PML-N did not agree with today’s resolution.”

According to him, “we cannot dictate the Parliament. The country is run by the Constitution… We cannot take steps outside of Constitution.”

Fawad said the opposition should sit down and talk about election reforms.

He said the opposition was complaining that the government was not negotiating with it. But now that election reforms have been presented in the assembly, the opposition has still not given its input or response, he said.

Answering a question, Fawad said the government has fulfilled its commitment of tabling a resolution against the blasphemous acts.

He said the nation must not forget the great sacrifices rendered by the policemen to maintain law and order in the country.

The information minister said the total expenditure of the federal government was Rs175 billion in 2010 and despite 18th Constitution amendment under which many ministries and institutions were devolved to the provinces, the total expenditure of the federal government increased to Rs500 billion within 2015 to 2017, “thanks to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s last regime.”

At this, adviser to PM on reforms and austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain presented recommendations of the committee regarding volume of the federal government (in terms of employees), working mechanism, manpower in different ministries and departments and their rationalisation.

The cabinet was apprised that currently about 955,000 employees have been working in the federal government, adding that out of them, during 2019-20, 565,000 employees were working in the secretariat and attached departments and 390,000 in autonomous, semi-autonomous and corporations.

Out of these, 95 percent of employees were working in grade 1-16 and their salaries cost 80 to 85 percent of the total expenditures.

The ratio between (employees) officers and staff stood around 1:20, and in Secretariat, it was 1:6.

The federal cabinet was also informed that in the years 2010-11 to 2016-17, the total number of government employees was 829,000, whereas in the year 2016-17, 137,000 employees were suddenly inducted into Secretariat and attached departments of the federal government, whereas, 21,000 inductions were made in the autonomous bodies.

Among these employees, about 35 percent were working in security, law and order, civil armed forces, 20 percent in the infrastructure services, railways, postal, aviation, highways, 18 percent in energy sector, 5 percent in social sector, 5 percent in commercial and taxation, 12 percent others in data, training, research and judiciary, etc.

The total number of employees in the 10 major departments/institutions of the country stood at around 351,250, including 2,623 officers in grade 17-22 and the rest 348,627 in grade 1-16.

In the ministries, the ratio between officers and employees stood at around 1:4.

The federal cabinet was apprised that through rationalisation efforts under the present government, about Rs28 billion has been saved so far.

In this regard, it was decided that through e-filing and e-office system, the ratio between officers and staff would be brought down to 1:3 under different phases.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021