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ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet which is scheduled to meet today (Tuesday) with prime minister in the chair will discuss proposed electoral reforms, the intention and implications of European Parliament’s resolution on GSP+ scheme and forthcoming FATA meeting and current situation of Covid-19 including vaccination drive.

On Monday, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry and Adviser to Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan shared the details of government’s plans for electrical reforms to ensure transparency and fairness in the election process.

The sources said Electoral Reforms Bill, of which both these measures are part of, was stuck in National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs. The main reason for delay was objection by some opposition members in the Committee that the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs could not legally represent the ministry in the Parliament, despite the fact that a ruling to the contrary had already been given by the speaker. The Committee desired that the minister for law & justice should brief them on the bill. The prime minister directed the law minister to resolve the issue and get the bill cleared from the Committee at the earliest. The sources said Cabinet will discuss the implications of European Parliament’s resolution approved by an overwhelming majority of EU parliament members. The Cabinet will be briefed about the resolution’s implications on Pakistan international political relations with special reference to GSP+ scheme, which if withdrawn will have far reaching consequences for the textile industry.

In addition to this the EU resolution has urged Pakistan to amend its blasphemy laws and this may become one of the conditions made part of the new GSP+ law to be introduced in 2023. Tariff concessions available to Pakistan under current GSP+ scheme will expire in 2022. Sources told this correspondent that such a resolution was also presented to the EU Parliament in 2017 and 2018 but could not be taken up, because UK, one of the key players in EU, was supporting Pakistan at the time. As UK is no longer a member of the EU, the resolution was passed at this time - it was tabled in Parliament on April 27 and approved on April 28 – with sources speculating that France may have been behind this move. Pakistan’s ambassador to Belgium had no clue of the resolution. Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar and Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Dr Faisal Sultan will update cabinet on current Covid-19 situation in the country and effects of lockdown on its further spread.

The other agenda items to be considered by the cabinet are as follows: (I) appointment of Member Production Control (MPC) in the Heavy Industries Textile (HIT) Board ;(ii) issuance of commemorative Coin for 100th anniversary of NED University of Engineering & Technology, Karachi;(iii) National Policy Statement on follow the money ;(iv) special remission in sentence on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, 2021 ;(v) deployment of Army in aid of Civil Administration ;(vi) submission of cases for seeking approval of the federal government to provide opportunity of personal hearing as Appellate Authority under section 14(1) and review Authority under section 14(2) of the Emigration Ordinance, 1979 in review of the decision of Director General, Bureau of Immigration and Overseas Employment taken in exercise of the powers conferred upon him under section 12(3) of the Ordinance, ibid;(vii) approval of private sector participation in Railways and tax barriers;(viii) appointment of Chief Executive Officer, Railway Constructions Pakistan Ltd (RAILCOP);(ix) ratification of minutes of Cabinet Committee on Institutional Reforms (CCIR) taken on April 8 and April 15, 2021 and ECC decisions taken on April 28.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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