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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has said that modern technology would be used to conduct the next population census.

Speaking at a news conference, after a cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan, the minister said that the government was assured by the concerned authorities that population census would be completed in the next two years.

The minister said, following discussion, the meeting decided that the next census should be on de jure basis, and acknowledged that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had difference of opinion over whether the census should be conducted on de jure or defacto basis.

The minister explained that when the people are counted by imposing curfew at the same time, it is called de-facto process, and when the people are living for more than six months and will stay for another six months is called de jure.

Cabinet approves seasonal electricity package, holding census in 2022

He said that in the census, latest technology would be used including tablets, and help of the NADRA and other agencies would also be taken. He said in the last process, election commission would carry out delimitation of new constituencies.

The government, he said, also decided to reduce the sentences of prisoners on Eid Milad-un-Nabi.

The cabinet was also given a briefing on the electronic voting machine as a regular agenda item and was informed that the opposition was not willing to engage in a constructive dialogue over electoral reforms.

The meeting was also briefed on the Pandora Papers, he said, adding that people named in the papers would be divided into various categories, which included; those who have declared their offshore companies; those who have not declared their offshore companies were involved in tax evasion; and those with offshore companies who have been involved in money laundering which comes under the purview of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

The Prime Minister’s Office would divide them into different categories and all the institutions including the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the FIA etc would proceed against them, accordingly.

The minister also complained that media was repeatedly showing names of Shaukat Tarin and Khusru Bukhtiar on media but the media was not talking about whether some companies of media owners were legal or illegal.

The issue of Pakistan medical and dental college admission tests also came under discussion during the cabinet meeting as Dr Faisal Sultan, special assistant to the prime minister on health briefed the meeting.

7th Population and Housing Census: Cabinet divided over deployment of armed forces

The government would not take any risk on national licensing examination (NLE) and MDCAT tests, he said adding that standard for doctors should be high. As many as 200,000 students have appeared for the exams, and total seats are only 20,000, which reflect how tough the competition is.

Chaudhary said that the Ministry of Energy has sent a proposal to the NEPRA seeking relief of Rs7 per unit in electricity tariff for those consumers who would be using electricity against gas during the winter because there would be gas shortage in the coming winter.

He said that a three-member committee has also been constituted to look into at which rates the power and roads contracts were awarded by the previous government and submit a report to the cabinet.

About the ordinance with regards to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman, he said that the ordinance was not presented before the cabinet and the opposition parties should appoint someone else in place of Shehbaz Sharif for meaningful consultation on the issue of the NAB chairman.

The government had decided to move towards legislation in the joint session and meanwhile, talks with the opposition would also continue, the minister added.

He said that an ordinance would be brought today (Wednesday) to explain or fulfil the legal lacuna that if the opposition leader is wanted in NAB cases, then how consultation on appointment of the NAB chairman should be done. The minister said that the trade deficit was increasing due to rising import bill of oil and gas, and the rupee was under pressure.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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