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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Tuesday said the federal Cabinet has discussed, among other things, the recent report of Transparency International (TI) ‘’that hasn’t been published as yet’’.

Briefing media persons after a cabinet meeting presided over by prime minister Imran Khan, the minister said the cabinet was informed that the Transparency International has decreased Pakistan’s score on the basis of rule of law and the issues related to ‘’state capture’’.

He said there is therefore a need to improve rule of law as it is a constant process and every institution should play its role in this regard. He also said that the cabinet has approved Rs5 billion for the 7th Population and Housing Census.

He said that the results of the pilot survey under the Census -2022 would be released by end April or start of May 2022 and the next general elections will be held on the basis of new census.

Earlier, on a proposal of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, a meeting of the ECC has approved technical supplementary grant of Rs5 billion for conducting next population census in the country.

Govt optimistic to achieve over 5% economic growth, says Tarin

The minister said the whole process will be completed by the end of this year; however, results of the pilot survey under the Census-2022 will be revealed by the end of April or in the start of May. The Election Commission will start delimitation of constituencies for the next general elections after these results.

Fawad Chaudhry said, the cabinet was briefed on the spread of Covid-19 in the country. It was acknowledged that despite a spike in corona cases only 1.5 percent increase in hospitalization was recorded that shows our health system is not overburdened with this wave.

The minister said Prime Minister Imran Khan’s successful policy of smart lockdown is being implemented again to deal with this wave. He said the policy is being acknowledged worldwide and even the United Kingdom has decided to implement it. The minister said it is great news that according to the Economist, Pakistan is among those few countries, which have returned to normalcy after the Covid-19.

The minister said Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed to devise a mechanism for provision of relief to overseas Pakistanis for their Covid-19 test that is compulsory before travelling abroad. He said, in this regard, a summary will be moved to the ECC to devise a legal framework.

The minister said the cabinet was also briefed over the increase in imports and exports of the country. It was informed that Pakistan’s machinery imports have risen by 35 percent, indicating the long term expansion in textile and other export sectors.

It was also informed that the oil and palm oil imports have put additional burden on the economy due to increase in their prices internationally. The country’s exports have increased by 29 percent. Only textile sector have shown 88 percent increase in exports, while remittances have increased by 11.3 percent, foreign exchange reserves grew from $17 billion to $24 billion, tax collection rose by 32.5 percent, and Foreign Direct Investment by 20 percent. He said private business credit increased by 267 percent and private sector so far received a loan of Rs904 billion.

Dec CPI up 12.3pc YoY

The minister said the Cabinet has also approved amendments to Criminal Law. He said the suggested amendments will be sent to the Parliament for a legal framework. Sharing details of the policy concerning criminal cases approved by Prime Minister Imran Khan-led cabinet meeting, the information minister said under the policy, it is mandatory to decide criminal cases within nine months and in case of any delay the prosecutor and the judge will be asked to provide the reason of delay and the responsible will be held accountable.

“In case of failure to decide a case in nine months, the concerned judge will have to clarify his position to chief justice while action will be taken against those lingering the case beyond the deadline,” he said.

Under this law, the police is being given the power of bail and minimum education for the appointment of SHO will be BA and that person should at least be a sub-inspector.

He said minimum indicative prices for tobacco was approved at the rate of 245 per kilogram, which will greatly benefit tobacco growers in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said the cabinet also approved the recommendations of the committee to remove the hurdles in way of installation of new electricity and gas meters in the federal capital.

The minister for information said the cabinet withdrew 45 percent duty on import of pine nuts from Afghanistan. It approved a compensation package of 11.6 million dollars for Chinese engineers who died in a terrorist incident at Dasu.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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