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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Economic Affairs Sardar Ayaz Sadiq said on Tuesday that Punjab is not behaving seriously for getting $200 million soft loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the Greater Thal project for the development and improvement of its irrigation system.

Speaking on a point of order in the National Assembly, Sadiq dispelled the impression that the federal government is responsible for the lapse of $200 million ADB soft loan for the Greater Thal Canal project. “The agreement for loan was signed on October 13, 2021, and ECNEC (Executive Committee of National Economic Council) approved it in March 2022. The ECNEC laid down four conditions for getting the loan. It was necessary to develop the consensus of Sindh and Punjab on it for distribution of water,” he added.

He continued that the federal Economic Affairs Division conveyed to Punjab and Sindh to sit together for evolving consensus, adding the Economic Affairs Division is only a facilitator while the provinces are to be decided on it.

“The Secretary Irrigation Punjab was not proactive due to which the loan lapsed. Federal government approached the ADB to extend loan but Punjab government did not do it,” he added.

Construction of Greater Thal Canal: Punjab slams Centre for ‘refusing’ to sign loan agreement

He said that the ADB did not extend the loan; however, it has kept the window open for getting the loan, adding the soft loan can still be secured if Punjab and Sindh develop a consensus on this important project.

“We’re ready to facilitate this process,” he added.

The house was also informed that a damage assessment survey has been carried out in the flood-affected areas in an impartial manner with the involvement of all stakeholders.

The Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Murtaza Javed Abbasi, while responding to a calling attention notice said the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) assisted the provincial disaster management authorities in the process.

He said that the government has effectively highlighted Pakistan’s case regarding climate change impacts at the international level.

The economic affairs minister said that international partners including the World Bank were also involved in the survey of flood-affected areas.

About gas load-shedding in the country, the parliamentary secretary for petroleum, Hamid Hameed, said that the previous government had imposed a ban on new gas connections and now a summary has been moved to the prime minister to lift the ban but the decision is yet to be taken. Responding to a calling attention notice, he said that efforts were being made to implement the schedule under which gas would be provided during 5-9 in the morning, 12-02 noon and 5-9 evening, he said.

He said that the gas load management plan is being implemented to ensure that the gas is available to domestic consumers during cooking times. The house also passed, “The Trade Organizations (Amendment) Bill, 2022” with a minor amendment in section 1 of the Trade Organizations Act, 2013.

According to the amendment of objects and reasons, the act and its subsequent rules aim to define the purpose, role, responsibility and operational framework including the code of corporate government for TOs and their related matters.

The Trade Organization Act, 2013 has given certain functions and powers to be exercised by the Federal government. These functions and powers relate to regulations of operational matters of TOs and hence, it is appropriate that such functions and powers are given to the Commerce Division or the Regulator of Trade Organization.

The purpose of the amendment is that the power of the federal government relating to operational matters of the TOs should be given to the Commerce Division of the Regulator Trade Organizations for the smooth functioning of day-to-day affairs.

Moreover, the tenure of office bearers of trade bodies also needs to be increased from existing one year to two years to provide adequate time for the office bearers to implement their agenda.

The proposed amendments in the Trade Organizations Act, 2013 will enable the office of the expeditious disposal of operational issues in the regulation of TOs by the Directorate General of Trade Organization and Commerce Division. Increasing the tenure of trade bodies to two years from the existing one year will enable the management of trade bodies to implement their policies and agendas by getting sufficient time.

The house also passed a resolution extending the Tax Laws Second Amendment Ordinance, 2022 for a further period of 120 days. The house was prorogued sine die.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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