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ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Monday approved nine demands for grants worth Rs157.331 billion and rejected 535 cut motions moved by opposition members to reduce development expenditures for various projects and schemes.

The House approved three demands for grants pertaining to Information and Broadcasting Division worth Rs10.074 billion and rejected 107 cut motions moved by opposition members.

Winding up the debate on demands for grants related to Information Ministry, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that several innovative steps were being taken to improve performance of the state media organizations to represent the national narrative at international level.

"It's the world of public opinion as wars are fought through opinion. And the more the narrative is pushed, the better it would be to achieve the [desired] goals. Through use of advanced technology and strengthening state media with more allocations, we can effectively fight media war against the enemies of Pakistan," he added.

He thanked the Finance Ministry for allocating enough funds to enable state media to meet with the international standard. He said a plan of refinements was being introduced in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and its departments to face contemporary challenges.

The House approved two demands for grants of National Food Security and Research Division worth Rs25.135 billion and rejected 142 cut motions moved by opposition MPs.

Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Syed Fakhar Imam said that the government has planned to spend Rs53.5 billion in 2021-22 on agricultural development and reforms to enhance the agriculture growth in the country.

According to him, the government has earmarked Rs12 billion for the agriculture sector in the budget 2021-22, apart from this, negotiations are underway with the Ministry of Finance for additional Rs25 billion and Rs16.5 billion for development in various areas of this potential sector. In order to increase research development in the agricultural sector, he added, there is a need to pay more attention to agricultural universities for modernizing the agriculture curriculum in the country.

The House also rejected 175 cut motions on demands for grants of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Division and approved them having worth of Rs49.797 billion. Winding up debate on the cut motions, the parliamentary secretary for national health services Nausheen Hamid said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led (PTI) government was paying full attention to health sector adding that health reforms was top agenda of the government. She said that health Insaf Cards were given to all people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, adding as flagship programme of the government, the health cards are also being provided to people of Islamabad and Punjab. The Sindh province did not provide health cards to the people so far, she added.

The House also approved two demands for grants of Railways Division worth Rs72,325,590,000 and rejected 111 cut motions on them.

Winding up the debate on the demands for grants, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said that Pakistan Railway earned record revenue of Rs54 billion in 2019 and the entire credit goes to the incumbent government. He said that performance of Pakistan Railways would be further improved as its total cost per annum is Rs97 billion, of which Rs14 billion incurs on making railway trains operational.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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