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LAHORE: The Punjab Cabinet, which met here Tuesday with Chief Minister Usman Buzdar in the chair, approved amendments in Punjab Government Rules of Business, 2011, entrusting the South Punjab departments' secretaries with all those powers of promotions, transfers and recruitments which are available to their counterparts in the province of Punjab while the heads of autonomous bodies, boards, authorities and companies will be answerable to respective secretaries.

The CM in a news conference felicitated the people of South Punjab, their public representatives and Cabinet members over this move and said this will prove first step towards creation of South Punjab province.

Usman Buzdar said that the powers of South Punjab's additional chief secretary, secretaries and departments have been defined through amendments in Rules of Business. "The South Punjab Secretariat will comprise three divisions, 11 districts and 17 government departments with complete administrative authority to ACS (South Punjab) and secretaries. The ACS (South Punjab) is given the authority to transfer grade-17 officers including assistant commissioners. He is empowered to approve the budget and provide funds to the offices of commissioners, DCs and ACs along with the authority to write ACRs of south Punjab departments' secretaries," he said.

The cabinet also approved outsourcing of government rest/guest houses. TDCP would be allowed to give government rest/guest houses on a 20-year lease with the option of a 10-years extension. The lease will be given through an open auction to ensure transparency.

The meeting allowed IDAP for the construction and rehabilitation of 32 KPK hospitals to promote inter-provincial harmony along with the approval of an affordable housing model for peri-urban areas. As per decision, the use of a three billion rupees revolving fund will be permitted for infrastructural development.

The cabinet also approved the establishment of the Punjab Commission for Illegal Housing Societies with retired Justice Azmat Saeed as its head. Matters about the release of fitness certificates for transport vehicles were approved along with the decision to amend Punjab Pension Fund and Punjab General Provident Investment Fund's Act. After the amendments, the Punjab Pension Fund and Punjab General Provident Investment Fund will be empowered to invest in 100 % government schemes and national saving schemes.

The Punjab Cabinet also decided to constitute a cabinet standing committee for universal health insurance along with amendments in the Punjab Medical and Health Institutions Act, 2003. After this, the BoM matters of hospitals will be streamlined.

Steps relating to the promotion of austerity were approved for 2021-22 by the austerity committee and it was decided to hand over Lahore Museum to the Archaeology Department.

The cabinet approved operationalization of PHA in Sialkot, endorsement of the charter of Lahore Institute of Science and Technology and Grand Asian University Sialkot along with the approval of posting of the chairperson of Punjab Commission on Status of Women. The annual calendar for the fourth parliamentary year of the Punjab Assembly for 2021-22 and the Provincial Ombudsman's annual report for 2020 was also approved.

It was decided not to nominate a below BS-20 officer for BoG of the National School of Public Policy. Formal approval of Amjad Ali Awan for the post of CEO Punjab PPP Authority was accorded. Similarly, the performance audit report about the 2017-18 audit of Cholistan Development Authority Bahawalpur and the audit report of the accounts of Works Department for 2020-21 were approved.

AGP reports about the district governments' accounts for 2017-18 and 2020-21 were recommended, as well. AGP reports about Punjab government accounts for 2016-17, 2018-19 and 2020-21 were confirmed. AGP reports about district governments' accounts for 2019-20 were also accepted along with the approval of a monitoring report about the implementation of NFC Award July-December 2019 and January-June 2020, were passed.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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