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The Federal Cabinet on Tuesday decided that the support price of cotton should be fixed after thorough consultations with all the stakeholders in order to encourage farmers to sow more and more cotton as its cultivation has been woefully declining.

Prime minister Imran Khan, who chaired the cabinet's meeting, was in favour of giving subsidies on cotton seed and fertilizer, so that poor growers could benefit.

The cabinet also decided to amend laws on appointment of heads of various government institutions and autonomous bodies in the country. It also reviewed the audit reports relating to alleged embezzlement in the affairs of Karachi Port Trust (KPT).

After the federal cabinet meeting, Information Minister Senator Shibli Faraz, while giving a news briefing, said that a seven-point agenda was discussed in the cabinet meeting.

The information minister said a committee has been constituted to frame a law with regard to appointment of heads for government entities.

He said the committee will work under the supervision of Advisor for Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain, which will present its recommendations within a week.

He said Minister for Narcotics Control Azam Khan Swati presented 39 proposals to the prime minister on electoral reforms, which the prime minister appreciated.

The information minister said the decisions of the Cabinet Committee on Energy were ratified in the meeting, while the prime minister directed to expedite the reforms in the energy sector.

Shibli Faraz also said that the PTI is the only party, which has introduced reforms in the electoral process, while reforms in the energy sector are the government's priority.

The information minister said the cabinet approved the names of the National Commission for the Status of Women but the members would be decided by the prime minister.

He said that the cabinet had approved the application of Pakistan Essential Services Act, 1952, on all employees of the National Institutional Facilitation Technology and the approval had been given for six months.

Shibli Faraz also said that the cabinet approved the appointment of member National Accounts and member Census in the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, and also approved the audit to rectify the irregularities in the affairs of the Karachi Port Trust (KPT).

The cabinet approved the names of the members of the National Commission for Status of Women and National Bureau of Statistics.

It also approved decisions taken by the Cabinet's Committee on Energy and Economic Coordination Committee.

The information minister said the cabinet reviewed matters pertaining to audit survey regarding embezzlement in Karachi Port Trust.

Senator Shibli Faraz said Prime Minister Imran Khan also sought a report regarding illegal and unlawful appointments in 12 different ministries within one week.

Talking about the coronavirus challenge, the minister said no country in the world can afford continuous lockdown, and a decision regarding ease in countrywide lockdown was taken in view of difficulties being faced by poor labour class.

He said the government has limited resources and infrastructure, and continuous lockdown was not possible under the prevailing conditions.

The minister urged the citizens and members of the civil society to adopt all necessary precautionary measures, follow guidelines and the SOPs, and support government in its endeavors to contain the pandemic.

APP adds: The PM said all the lacunas in the election laws would be addressed so that the people's trust in the election process was restored and nobody could raise a finger on the transparency of election. A transparent and credible electoral process was the foundation of democracy and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was the only party which had taken serious efforts and practical steps for electoral reforms.

Expressing the government's commitment, the prime minister directed to intensify efforts so that electoral reforms process should be completed as soon as possible.

Shibli Faraz said the cabinet discussed the issue of unlawful appointments made in various ministries during the previous governments. It transpired that appointments without any cabinet approval were made in 12 ministries. Expressing his serious concern, the prime minister directed all the ministries to share details in next cabinet meeting so that action could be taken on the issue.

Senator Shibli Faraz said the cabinet also approved the names of the members of National Commission on the Status of Women, including Shaista Bukhari from Punjab, Habiba Hassan from Sindh, Rubina Naz Advocate from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Fatima Iqbal from Balochistan, Madhiha Sultana from AJK, Sosan Aziz from Gilgit Baltistan and Asia Azeem from the Federal Capital.

The minister said the PM directed steps for provision of energy to the consumers at affordable rates and reduction of the circular debt. He also directed the minister for energy to complete the process of reformation in various departments of the ministry with a time line.

He said Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar gave a briefing on the steps being taken to control the coronavirus in the country and presented the report on the situation after relaxation in the lockdown.

Imran Khan remarked that activities in the construction and other sectors had even been allowed by the developed countries keeping in view the ground realities. Keeping the economy afloat and balancing security measures was imperative, he added.

Shibli Faraz it was observed that generally the people did not adopt precautionary measures and the cabinet appealed to them to strictly follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) as the country could not afford a surge in the coronavirus cases.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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