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Besides scrapping the privatisation plan of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), the federal cabinet on Tuesday approved withdrawal of Rs 40,000 denomination prize bonds in the country. Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information & Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said this while addressing a press conference. She said the government is on its way to bring reforms to curb corruption. She said the registration of the bonds will be required and no prize bond will be encashed without documentation.
She said that Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) will not be privatised and foreign investors would be invited to run the mill. She said that the Prime Minister has endorsed the decision of ECC in connection with the Steel Mills and added that PSM would be run under public-private partnership.
She said that the opposition leaders had been whitening their ill-gotten black money by purchasing winning prize bond numbers. She said that the new move will end the love of politicians with prize bonds.
Dr Firdous said that PTI government under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan has started a decisive action against smuggling and added that a special committee has been constituted under the interior minister for eradication of smuggling.
She said the federal government has decided to make a new legislation pertaining to production orders for parliamentarians, besides ensuring no NRO will be given to the corrupt and money launderers.
She said that the Prime Minister said that production orders for members of the assemblies, involved in money laundering and corruption, should not be issued in any case. He said such prisoners should also not be given the status of political inmates in jail. Khan has tasked the Ministry of Law to draft a legislation, she added.
She further said that production orders are given to facilitate the accused person which is a precedent and not the law. Pakistan Peoples Party had requested for the production order of former President Asif Ali Zardari; however, the government had expressed reservations over it.
She further said that the cabinet has also approved the Senior Citizen Bill, 2019 for the welfare of senior citizens. This would include the establishment of old age homes in Islamabad in the first stage and in other parts of the country later on. "There is no greater tragedy than the fact that the ones who raise half a dozen children are not taken care of when it''s their turn," Awan said as she provided details of the initiative.
"In view of these societal gaps we see, the challenges that our society faces nowadays and the fact that our social fabric is being destroyed, the Prime Minister has approved this bill [for legislation]," she explained. She said that the proposed law will work to safeguard the fundamental rights of senior citizens and ensure their uplift and protection within society.
Furthermore, a Senior Citizen''s Council will be formed which will begin its work in Islamabad with the creation of an old age home.
"For the past 12 years, I have been running an old age home in Sialkot which stems from my ''addiction'' to social work. I am happy that the Prime Minister and I, along with the cabinet, are just as ''addicted'' to social welfare and the need to serve people," she said.
She said the cabinet approved National Commission on Rights of Child to prepare a database of abducted and missing children. Awan also announced the cabinet''s decision to create a centralised data bank to record the information of children who are kidnapped or missing.
"The Prime Minister has a soft corner for the National Child Protection Commission, and the cabinet today accorded in principle approval to the National Commission on the Rights of the Child. There needs to be a centralised database with figures from every province reported for kidnapped or missing children. This commission will overcome this challenge and will make information easier to access for the media as well under a ''one-window operation'' where all the relevant information will be available," she said.
The special assistant also informed media that measures are being taken to facilitate visa applicants who wish to pursue employment in South Korea. "The cabinet has accorded its approval for the enlistment of work visas for South Korea, so that our manpower is exported and foreign remittances are increased," she announced.
She also said that the cabinet also directed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) chairman to create a new master plan for Islamabad. She said the CDA is an important regulatory institution and has been tasked with creating an organised structure. She said the master plan currently in use was formulated in 1960. She said the Prime Minister gave strict orders that the authority would make a new master plan to address the following issues: (i) expansion in the capital; (ii) haphazard growth of housing colonies; (iii) shortage of residences; (iv) load on CDA for not being able to distribute work; (v) maintenance of buildings; (vi) supply of clean drinking water; (vii) and to check the encroachment on the green belts and their misuse
She said that CDA will take immediate action under the available laws and will inform the cabinet if more laws are needed to address the abovementioned challenges. Awan further informed the media that an audit of the authority shall be done as it is an institution which is "tangled up in red-tape".
She further said the disparity lies with respect to work specification of CDA and Islamabad Municipal Corporation. She said it is duty of municipal corporation to maintain federal capital and its sectors, whereas the CDA is responsible for the launch of new housing schemes, construction work and making and retaining green belt areas.
The cabinet has approved the budget sought by the CDA; however, the cabinet has given 2 weeks to bring forth the roadmap to utilise the budget effectively and efficiently.
The cabinet was informed that CDA has given Rs 16 million loan to Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad. Rs 1 million are paid against electricity bill monthly, it has been informed. Dr Firdous said the matter has been referred to FIA for investigation.
She said up till now 856 decisions have been taken by the federal government under the cabinet in which 789 have been delivered, 45 decisions are under the process which are in the form of MoUs with different countries and 22 have been delayed.
The cabinet approved appointment of Zubair Gilani as the new chairman of Board of Investment (BoI) and the appointment of Shahjahan Mirza as managing director of Private Power Infrastructure Board.
She said that Prime Minister Khan also took the cabinet members into confidence on his forthcoming visit to the United States. She said that the Prime Minister Khan said he would speak of Pakistan there. The Pakistani delegation will also have Shah Mehmood Qureshi and it would stay at the Pakistan embassy," she said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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