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KARACHI: The provincial cabinet in its around five-hour session condemned the letter written by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to the Sindh government to seek domicile-wise details of its employees from grade BS-1 to BS-22 and termed the letter 'politically-motivated' written at the behest of Shahzad Akbar.

"The cabinet said that the information sought by the NAB was beyond its mandate, therefore demanded of the chairman NAB to conduct an inquiry into the matter."

The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah at CM House. It was attended by provincial ministers, advisors, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, Chairman P&D M Waseem and concerned provincial secretaries.

The issue of NAB letter was taken up in the meeting and termed it a politically motivated move by PM's Special assistant Shahzad Akbar and the NAB authorities crossing their legal limits wrote the letter to the Sindh government. The cabinet demanded the chairman NAB to conduct an inquiry into the matter and take actions accordingly.

Prohibition of Corporal Punishment: The School education department presented draft rules for Sindh Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Act-2016.

Under the rules no child or student in any educational institution, including Madressahs shall be harmed physically, mentally or emotionally or harassed or abused sexually by any person employed in the institution.

The institution shall ensure the protection and safety of the child shall take all possible measures to protect and prevent a child from corporal and physical punishment.

Under the rules the educational institutions will have to constitute child Protection Committees comprising headmaster or administrator of Madressahs, one member of administration, parent or guardian with the assignment to receive, record and investigate all complaints regarding allegations.

The committee shall, in case of severe child abuse, violence, exploitation and neglect, immediately inform the police, the district coordination committee, child helpline 1121 or relevant Child Protection Officer.

Any person who abets, attempts, incites, assists or directs any person to commit the acts prohibited under the law shall be liable to the severe punishment defined in the law.

Payment of pension: The Agriculture department requested the cabinet for a grant of over Rs749 million to clear the outstanding pension benefits of Rs410.838 million and Rs338.029 million for payment of their arrears.

The cabinet observed that the market committee and such other institutions like KMC, KDA and other development authorities have failed to protect their retired employees in terms of payment of their pensions or gratuity. They should have established pensions funds to secure their retirement benefits, but this has not been done.

The chief minister on the advice of the cabinet approved a loan of Rs749 million to clear the pensions of Market Committee retired employees and asked the department to sell the property/assets to clear the government loan.

He also directed each department to review the financial health of their line/subordinate wings and overhaul them. If their services are no longer required, the wings should be closed. The revenue generating wings/committee/corporations should not stretch hands for financial help.

Shah categorically said that he won't give such grants in future. The KMC, KDA, DMCs, Town and municipal committees, market committees, development authorities and provincial corporations should formulate policies to protect the retirement benefits of their retiring employees. He added that these institutions have to use their resources sagaciously.

Four-acre land: The provincial cabinet approved allotment of four acres land in Deh Kohistan, Taluka Kambar, District Shahdadkot to The Zayed Charitable & Humanitarian Foundation Abu Dhabi for establishment of 20-bed state of art and one high school building with a playground. The deputy commissioner Kambar-Shahdadkot had fixed the price of land at Rs350,000 per acre but the cabinet approved to allot it free of cost. The UAE government through trust wants to establish a hospital and a school, therefore land should be given them free of cost.

The chief minister directed the BoR to issue an allotment order within 24 hours.

Amendment in Forest Act: The Forest department told the cabinet that cultivation of agriculture crops on forest lands was misuse of the lands under The Forest Act 1927. The forest policy 2004 has already been cancelled by the government in 2019.

Forest Minister Nasir Shah said that the ex-lease holders and encroachers were not vacating the forest lands. He added that under the on-going encroachment removal operation 39,275 acres have been vacated and around 200,000 acres was yet to be vacated.

The department suggested amendment in Section 26 and 63 of the Forest Act. Under the amendment in Section 26 the offence of encroachment on forest land would be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 14 years but would not be less than seven years. In Section 63 fine has been enhanced to 500,000.

The cabinet, in principle, approved the amendments and constituted a committee comprising Minister Forest, Minister Irrigation, Minister Excise, Advisor law to once again review the proposed amendments and present in the assembly.

Monsoon: The local government department told the cabinet that there are 41 major Nullahs of KMC and DMCs. Their cleaning was due and the monsoon season was approaching fast. The cabinet approved Rs500 million for the purpose. The chief minister directed Secretary Finance to immediately release Rs250 million so that work could be started, and the remaining funds would be released shortly.

However, the chief minister constituted a committee with DM SSWMA and Municipal Commissioner KMC to personally monitor the cleaning work and keep reporting to the governments. The chief minister also directed Minister Local Government and the secretary Local government to personally monitor the cleaning work.

Water for power generation: The Irrigation department told the cabinet that a water carrier works from Nabisar to Vajihar to provide water to coal fields was being launched on Public Private Partnership (PPP) with a Kuwait government company, Enertech on Build Operate and Transfer basis.

The Irrigation Department has already signed an MOU with Enertech Holding for supply of water from Nabisar to Vajihar by laying 36 cusecs of water line. The project would cost over Rs19 billion. The cabinet keeping in view the importance of the project and water requirement for power generation granted permission to the irrigation department to issue a letter of engagement for development of the project under PPP mode.

Engraving Machines: On the request of the Inspector General of Police the provincial cabinet approved procurement of two Engraving Machines at a cost of Rs25 million each for their Forensic Labs located in Hyderabad and Larkana.

Advertisement policy: The Information department presented a draft Advertisement Policy 2021 to bring about greater transparency, accountability, and responsibility in advertisements.

The criteria for release of advertisement to print and electronic media shall be issued on the basis of regularity, frequency, popularity, circulation, viewer ship, quality, audience, market assessment, rating, ranking, surveys, outreach, and influence of the media outlets assessed objectively.

Senior Citizen Rules: The Social Welfare department presented Sindh Senior citizens Welfare Rules-2021 in the cabinet. The senior Citizen would be issued an Azadi card for providing essential services and benefits. There would be senior citizens lodging, homes for physical, mental, emotional, social and economic well-being of senior citizens.

The senior citizens would be entitled to have 25 percent concession at all private hospitals. They would be given a 50 percent concession in fares in road transport. The cabinet approved the rules.

Sub-jail: The provincial cabinet on humanitarian grounds approved declaring the homes of Under Trial Prisoners, Abdul Rehman and Arif Qasmani as sub jail. Abdul Rehman, 55, was languishing in jail in an ATC case with a sentence of one year awarded to him on January 2, 2021. He is seriously ill and suffering from different diseases. Therefore, the cabinet approved the request to declare his home as sub-jail.

Similarly, Arif Qasmani, 78, was in an ATC case in the jail but he is seriously ill, therefore the cabinet approved to declare his home as sub-jail.

Bye-laws: The local government department presented draft bye-laws on Population Control & Mass vaccination of stray dogs. Under the rules stray and pets dogs categories have been covered.

The owners of the pet dogs shall be responsible for controlled breeding, immunization, sterilization and licensing in accordance with the byelaws. The stray dogs shall be sterilized and immunized by participation of councils and private individuals.

The local councils would constitute their respective monitoring committees for the purpose of planning and management of birth control and euthanasia programme. The functions of the committee include conducting surveys of stray dogs, issuing instructions for catching, transporting, sheltering, sterilizing, vaccinating, treating and releasing sterilized vaccinated or treated dogs.

The Dog Control Cell would be set up under the byelaws where complaints could be registered against the behavior of the dogs for necessary action. All the local councils would adopt the byelaws.

The cabinet allowed merger of Continental Biscuits Ltd private land in its plot at SITE Sukkur for expansion.

The cabinet also approved the induction of KATI President Saleem-uz-Zaman to represent Employers' in Minimum Wages Board against a vacant seat.

The cabinet paid a rich tribute to retiring chairman P&D M Waseem. The chief minister presented him Ajrak, Sindh cap and shield on behalf of his cabinet members.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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