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ISLAMABAD: The federal government is said to have made the prime minister’s prior approval through circulation mandatory before placement of all cases related to negotiated instruments with foreign countries before the federal cabinet, well-informed sources told Business Recorder.

Sharing details, the sources said the Cabinet Division on October 30, 2023, informed that Rule 16 (1) (h) of the Rules of Business, 1973, provides for disposal of proposals placed before the Cabinet relating to signing of negotiated instruments with foreign countries and approval for ratification of the instruments, including memoranda of understanding (MoUs), agreements for collaboration and international contracts, etc.

It was added that the cabinet in its meeting held on June 18, 2019, had decided that “In future, all cases involving memorandum of understanding/ bilateral agreement of collaboration and international contract shall be disposed of by circulation.

PM convenes cabinet meeting tomorrow

Subsequently, the cabinet, in its meeting held on August 9, 2023, decided that “all such cases will henceforth only require approval of the prime minister instead of the cabinet except those where cabinet’s approval is mandatory.

It was informed that the Cabinet Division was of the view that the decision of the cabinet was generating interpretive difficulties regarding the purport of rule 16 (1) (h) of the Rules of Business, 1973.

References were being received from ministries as to which type of MoU(s) were required to be submitted to the prime minister for his approval as opposed to those that were required to be placed before the cabinet for its approval.

The Cabinet Division also informed that in the Mustafa Impex case, the Supreme Court had inter alia observed; (i) Federal Government is the collective entity described as Cabinet constituting the prime minister and federal ministers; (ii) Rules of Business, 1973 are binding on the government and a failure to follow them would lead to an order lacking any legal validity.

The Cabinet Division stated that in view of the decision of the Cabinet of August 9, 2023 was required to be reviewed, proposing that all cases relating to disposal of negotiated instruments with foreign countries including memoranda of understanding agreements for collaboration and international contracts may be disposed of in terms of rule 17(1) read with rules 16(1) (h) of the Rules of Business, 1973.

After a detailed discussion it approved the proposal. Thereby, all cases relating to negotiated instruments with foreign countries, including memoranda of understanding agreements for collaboration and international contracts etc., shall, in the first instance require the prime minister’s approval for placement before the cabinet through circulation.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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