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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has reportedly expressed his annoyance at Federal Secretaries for not attending the Secretaries Committee meeting held to suggest an appropriate Authority to replace the word Federal Government, well-informed sources told Business Recorder.

In a letter to all the concerned Secretaries, Cabinet Division stated that a report was submitted to the Prime Minister after the meeting of the Secretaries’ Committee on October 28, 2022 on the issue of appropriate Authority replacing the word federal government. The report also contained minutes of the meeting along with a list of participants.

According to Cabinet Division, Prime Minister has taken serious note of the absence of the Secretaries in the meeting without communicating the reason for their absence.

Prime Minister has directed that all Federal Secretaries/ Additional Secretaries (Incharge) shall ensure their participation in the meetings of the Secretaries’ Committee. Otherwise, they would have to communicate the reason for their unavailability and nominate a Special Secretary to attend the meeting on their behalf a copy of which may also be sent to the Prime Minister’s Office for information.

In addition, PM has further directed all Ministries/ Divisions shall submit their legislative proposals along with justification, for each law/ rule to be amended to replace the word “Federal Government”, for prior approval of the Prime Minister.

On October 28, 2022, Secretaries Committee, in its previous meeting had urged Ministries/ Divisions to identify “appropriate authority” to use the powers of Federal Government to save time of the Federal Cabinet from routine matters.

Cabinet Secretary, Sardar Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera briefed the members that after the Supreme Court’s decision in the Mustafa Impex Case in 2016, the Federal Government meant the Federal Cabinet, adding that now several matters of routine and operational nature ended up in the Federal Cabinet, taking up too much time of the forum.

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He gave background of the issue and stated that the Federal Cabinet, in its meeting on September 08, 2017, directed all the Ministries/ Divisions to replace the word “Federal Government” in the respective laws/ rules with appropriate Authorities.

The Federal Cabinet reiterated its earlier directions in its meetings on April 12, 2018, February 15, 2022, September 30, 2022, October 11, 2022 and October 18, 2022. Furthermore, in its meeting on October 18, 2022, the Federal Cabinet directed that the matter may be discussed in the Secretaries’ Committee to ensure the amendments were carried out in a uniform and organized manner.

The Ministries/ Divisions were required to complete the process of amendment in the laws/ rules in one month. The purpose of this exercise was to save the time of the Federal Cabinet from routine matters.

He explained with sample/ example slides that amendments in the laws/ rules, which required frequent submission of routine and operational cases to the Federal Cabinet, must be prioritized. Further, the categorization of operational matters must be carried out to decide the appropriate level of authority, to which the powers would be delegated.

For example, the power cannot simply be delegated to the Ministry; the Authority to which the power would be delegated must be identified such as the Minister or the administrative secretary of the Ministry.

The Secretary Cabinet further maintained that the Federal Cabinet had given in principle approval to all Ministries/ Divisions to bring their proposed amendments in the Cabinet Committee for the disposal of Legislative Cases (CCLC) and had given one month to complete the process of these amendments.

The Secretary Law added that all Ministries/ Divisions should send the proposed amendments to the Law & Justice Division for vetting before taking them up to CCLC. The format/ instructions on the procedure would be shared by Law & Justice Division.

Further, the time of one month was enough for amendments in rules but extension in time would be needed in case of laws as these were required to be passed by the Parliament, which would take significant time. The Secretary Cabinet agreed that due process must be followed before submitting cases to CCLC and the timeline for laws meant their introduction in Parliament.

The Committee had agreed that all the Ministries/ Divisions would carry out the process of the amendment in laws/ rules within one month and identify appropriate levels of authority, to which the powers of the Federal Government would be delegated in an organized manner.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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