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ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to make amendments in the Public Private Partnership (Amendment) Act, 2021, aimed at adding saving clause in it, to restart the stalled project of Sialkot-Islamabad Motorway, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

This has been done on the directions of cabinet which had asked Cabinet Division to seek the approval of the CCLC, and subsequent ratification by the cabinet, of the summary submitted by Planning, Development & Special Initiatives Division regarding insertion of saving clause in Public Private Partnership (Amendment) Act, 2021, through circulation, immediately.

Earlier, the Communications Division briefed the cabinet on August 17, 2021 that Pakistan Post, an attached Department of the Ministry of Communications, owned 4275 properties, which included 838 departmental buildings, 120 plots and 43 Inspection Quarters. Some of these properties were underutilized since long. In line with the vision of the Government, Pakistan Post intended optimal utilization of these properties through leasing and tenancy. This would not only contribute to increase in the revenue of the Department but also protect its valuable assets against encroachment and depreciation.

Pakistan Post derives its legal authority for leasing and selling its assets from Section 17 of Pakistan Postal Services Management Board (PPSMB) Ordinance, 2002. In this regard, Pakistan Post had drafted a Lease and Tenancy Policy-2020. The PPSMB, in its meeting held on November 11, 2020, recommended the draft Lease and Tenancy Policy of Pakistan Post - 2020 for onward submission to the Cabinet Division for approval.

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In the first phase, 21 encumbrance free plots/properties and 8 inspection quarters had been identified for leasing and tenancy. Whereas, other properties would be offered in subsequent phases after due verification of title and possession status.

The policy had been finalized in consultation with all stakeholders. The Law & Justice Division had vetted the policy, and its advice had been duly incorporated. The policy had also been examined by the Finance Division and their observations had been duly responded. Approval of Prime Minister had also been obtained for placing the matter before the cabinet, being the Federal Government, for soliciting approval of the Lease and Tenancy Policy of Pakistan Post 2020.

As required under Section 17 of the PPSMB Ordinance 2002, approval of the federal government was required to the following: (i) approval of Lease and Tenancy-Policy–2020; (ii) optimal utilization of postal properties through leasing in accordance with competitive bidding process; and (iii) conversion of status of the Postal properties / plots /Inspection Quarters for commercial utilization and hiring of consultant/ transaction advisor, if required.

During the discussion, minister for Law & Justice pointed out that para 3.1 of the policy was in conflict with Section 17 of the Pakistan Postal Services Management Board (PPSMB) Ordinance, 2002.

The earlier needs to reconcile with the latter.

Minister for Communications, Murad Saeed drew attention to the stalled project of Sialkot-Islamabad Motorway for want of amendments in the Public Private Partnership (Amendment) Act, 2021. Minister for Law & Justice stated that a saving clause was advised to be inserted in the Act. It was directed to run the same through CCLC for subsequent quick ratification by the cabinet through circulation.

The cabinet approved the proposal with the stipulation that para 3.1 of the policy shall be reconciled with section 17 of the Pakistan Postal Services Management Board (PPSMB) Ordinance, 2002.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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