- Cabinet gives approval to the auction of next generation mobile spectrum
- Also approves the Advertisement Policy 2021, which envisages issuance of ads to digital media as well, says information minister
ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet has decided that the implementation of Sales Tax (ST) on sugar will be at ex-mill price till 30 Nov 2021 in order to forestall hike in sugar prices.
This was stated by Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad during a press briefing on the decisions taken by the federal cabinet presided over by the Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday.
A senior official of finance ministry told Business Recorder that in the budget sales tax was imposed on retail price of sugar and cabinet decision to implement sales tax on ex-mill price would cause a positive impact on prices of sugar and its availability.
The minister said soon after the cabinet meeting began, the prime minister was congratulated over his party’s victory in the AJK election, adding the the prime minister directed an impartial investigation into the killing of two PTI workers.
The minister said that the victory of the PTI in Azad Kashmir is a reflection of people’s confidence in the prime minister’s policies.
Fawad further stated that on excessive securities and protocol, a detailed report was presented to the federal cabinet.
He said that “it is interesting to note the lowest expenditures are being incurred on security of the federal cabinet and maximum expenditures on the judiciary.”
As per details presented to the federal cabinet, the minister said that there are 762 police personnel deployed on security of president, governors, chief ministers, ministers, ministers of states, and advisers and special assistants with an annual expenditure of Rs700 million.
He said that on security of judges in the federal capital, there is deployment of 377 police personnel, resulting in annual expenditure of Rs287 million, while expenditure on the judiciary in Lahore stands at Rs1,143 million.
The minister said that in total Rs1,400 million is being spent on the judiciary, adding that “this does not include KP, Sindh, and Balochistan.”
He said that a total of around Rs1,098.08 million is being spent annually by the federal government on security, while the Punjab government’s annual security expenditure is of Rs2,529 million, and the KP government’s annual expenditure on security is of Rs993 million.
The minister said that the prime minister raised a very important point that if the government wants people to pay tax, the government has to assure them that the tax money is being used honestly.
The minister said the prime minister wants that on excessive security a new system should be developed and “threat committees” should be constituted where the PTI is in power. These committees would individually assess the level of threats and subsequently security arrangements would be made and this would help save millions of rupees. The Attorney General for Pakistan and Law Minister would speak to the judiciary on this issue.
Fawad said that Dr Babar Awan briefed the cabinet on electronic voting machine. The minister said that the government’s desire is that the government and the opposition should develop consensus on bigger issues as well as on controversial issues such as electoral reforms and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The minister said the government and the opposition are moving towards better relations on these issues.
The minister said the Board of Investment (BoI) has been empowered to initiate legislation to remove hurdles to ease of doing business to attract investment and approved a new framework and a strategy for agreements of foreign investment. The federal cabinet also allowed import of five ambulances from Japan to the Red Crescent Pakistan after withdrawal of customs duty.
A committee has also been constituted on the issue of the E-11 sector in Islamabad.
The information minister stated that the Prevention of Smuggling and Migrant Act, 2018, and the Prevention of Trafficking and Prison Act, 2018 have been allowed to be included the FIA Act 1974 in order to effectively deal with the issue of human trafficking.
The cabinet also approved the first National Cyber Security Policy to protect data and overall cyber regime protection, as well as advertisement policy 2021, and for the first time, the government is standing on zero outstanding payments and had allowed digital advertisement.
He said the four members have been inducted into the board of governors of Hydro Carbon Development Institute, adding that the cabinet gave approval to the appointment of board of directors of Genco Holding Company. Cabinet ratified the CCoE decisions of July 15, 2021 meeting while ECC decisions of July 16, 2021 have also been ratified.
He said the government had set the target to get 40 per cent of the population vaccinated by the end of July, which could not be achieved so far. It had planned to manage 70 per cent of the population vaccinated by the end of the year.
He said that the SOEs would be asked to vaccinate their employees as the Covid-19 situation in Karachi is becoming quite dangerous.
Responding to a question, he said following the PTI’s victory in the AJK elections, Prime Minister Imran Khan would announce the new leadership of AJK by the second week of August.
Regarding the appointment of two new members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), he categorically denied any deadlock between the government and the opposition on the matter.
Preliminary consultations have begun within the PTI and after finalisation of the names of candidates, the list will be sent to the Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly, Shehbaz Sharif, for his consent, he added.
To another question, he said a professional committee comprising bureaucrats would decide about distributing advertisements to the digital media in a transparent manner.
He said the investigation of the Noor Muqaddam murder case is continuing. The culprits involved in similar heinous crimes have already been punished, he added.
According to him, Pakistan is the safest country in the world. Such cases occur in every society, however, the ratio of such crimes in Pakistan is much lower as compared to other countries.
To another question, he said the government has decided to thoroughly investigate the attempted Indian cyber espionage attacks on mobile phones and gadgets of its top officials, and the findings would be shared with the United Nations, which hopefully would take action over it.
In addition, he said, the cabinet has also allowed import of an additional 200,000 metric tons of sugar to stabilize prices of sugar in the domestic market.
APP adds: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad has said the Federal Cabinet has approved the first-ever cyber security policy for better national security, and response to the looming threat of cyber warfare gaining roots across the globe.
He said the world is moving towards cyber warfare at a rapid pace, and the government has formulated the comprehensive policy in that regard, which is crucial to protect the cyber security regime, and electronic data of citizens.
Rubbishing the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) allegation of rigging in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir elections, he said there is no possibility of fraud in the electoral process as the PML-N itself was in government there and had appointed the chief election commissioner.
The cabinet appreciated the efforts of federal ministers Ali Amin Gandapur, Murad Saeed, Ali Muhammad Khan, and others in relation to the PTI’s victory.
The minister said the cabinet also gave approval to the Advertisement Policy 2021, which envisaged issuance of ads to digital media as well.
Presently, he said, there were no outstanding dues of the media against the Press Information Department (PID). However, certain media houses had not still paid salaries and other dues to their employees, and the worst affected among them were the technical staff like NLEs and cameramen, he added.
The present government, he said, had taken steps to overcome the problem and necessary legislation would also be done in that regard soon, the minister said.
Fawad said the PID had become paperless, whereas advertisements and payment of dues details are now available on its website.
He said the cabinet gave approval to the auction of next generation mobile spectrum.
The minister said the cabinet was also briefed on the latest Covid situation in the country. It was informed that so far 650,000 vaccine jabs a day are being administered and the plan is to achieve the target of one million doses per day.
He said various big institutions are being asked to make arrangements for vaccination of their employees. Vaccination has been made mandatory for the employees of government corporations.
If the rate of voluntary vaccination does not decline, the government has option to block the mobile SIMs of those not getting jabs, he warned. Earlier, he said the cabinet offered Fateha for the departed souls of four army personnel and PTI activists martyred on the election day in AJK and also directed for provision of the best possible medical treatment to the injured.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021