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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Water Resources, Khursheed Shah Friday said there is need to allocate 15 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the budget for the construction of water resources – small and big dams – to cope with the needs of the rising population.

Responding to a calling attention notice in the National Assembly regarding a notice issued by India to Pakistan for modifications in the Indus Waters Treaty 1960, he said: “I suggest the Lower House of the parliament to pass a resolution demanding allocation of 15 per cent of GDP for the construction of water reservoirs as survival of the nation links with the construction of new water reservoirs.”

The country will suffer if the construction of water reservoirs was not given priority and due attention, he said, adding the population of the country is rapidly increasing and there is a need for the construction of more water reservoirs to meet the water requirement for drinking and agriculture purposes.

He said that the country’s water storage capacity would improve with the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand Dams.

He said that the main reason behind poverty in the country was the non-utilisation of natural resources appropriately, stressing the need for tapping their [resources] full potential by taking corrective measures.

Earlier, National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf said while giving a ruling that the grade-20 officers of relevant ministers should be presented in the gallery during the question-hour session of the house.

He asked the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs to send privilege motions against those officers who did not attend the proceeding of the house, adding strict action would be taken against those officers that did not attend the proceeding of the house.

The house was also informed that the government is endeavoring to compensate farmers through the introduction of innovative technologies, seeds and other measures to boost the production of food crops.

Responding to a question during question hour, the Parliamentary Secretary for National Food Security and Research Ahmed Raza Maneka said that the country has been facing a shortfall between production and consumption of wheat for the last three years and its availability is being ensured through imports.

He said that around $2 billion have been spent on the import of 2.6 million metric tons of wheat to cater for the national requirement, adding the country had sufficient stock of rice to meet the demand.

Responding to a question, Minister for Religious Affairs Abdul Shakoor informed the house that the selection of welfare staff would be carried out in light of the policy, criteria and procedure approved by the federal government for Hajj 2023.

He said that Welfare Staff Moavineen would not be deputed for more than three consecutive years except the Director Welfare Staff Moavineen.

Replying to a question, the Parliamentary Secretary for National Health Services, Dr Shazia Sobia, said that infection with Covid-19 still prevails in the country, but it is under control as over 90 percent of Pakistani population has been vaccinated against the pandemic.

To a question, the Parliamentary Secretary for Industrial Production, Shahida Rehmani, said that 66 utility stores including franchises are currently operating in Chitral to provide necessary items to the people at affordable rates.

She said that new utility stores will be opened in 15 to 20 days after completion of the feasibility report and other codal formalities.

The parliamentary secretary for national health services, Dr Shazia Sobia, said that all medicines, material, tests in the emergency at Polyclinic Hospital in Islamabad are being provided free of cost except those which are not available in the hospital.

To a question, she said even first inoculation of rabies, adaptive support ventilation for snake bites, Trop-T for heart attack suspicious cases, fast scan, digital radiology and nebulization services are included among many other free interventions.

She said that the government had taken many actions to improve services of the emergency department to provide quality health facilities to the people.

About THE huge rush of patients in hospitals, she said that an evening OPD has also been started to decrease the load of patients in the emergency.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar laid the Fiscal Policy Statement, 2023, Debt Policy Statement, 2023 and Performance Monitoring Report FY 2021-22, before the house.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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