APP48-12 ISLAMABAD: April 12 - Ms. Marriyum Aurangzeb, Minister of State for IB&NH along with Minister of State for CADD, Dr. Tariq Fazal Chaudhry addressing a press briefing. APP

ISLAMABAD, April 12 (APP): The federal cabinet Wednesday approved the Hajj Policy for 2017 with the directives from the Prime Minister to the Ministry of Religious Affairs that the proposed cost and airfare be slashed to ensure that total expenses did not exceed the level of the previous year and that those performing Hajj for the first time were accorded priority in both the government and private Hajj schemes.
This was stated by Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting and
National Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb in a briefing after the cabinet meeting along with Minister for Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry.
Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the Prime Minister asked the Ministry of
Religious Affairs to work out the Hajj expenses and submit the revised rates in the next cabinet meeting for approval.
She said that the Prime Minister appreciating the satisfactory
arrangements made by the Ministry of Religious Affairs to facilitate the pilgrims last year directed that during the coming Hajj season also all possible facilities be extended to them.
Marriyum revealed that another landmark decision taken by the cabinet
was lifting of moratorium on issuance of new gas connections in the country after six years. Moreover ban on new gas licences for residential housing schemes has also been removed. She said that the ban was imposed in 2011 as the country was facing acute shortfall of gas.
The minister said that now the shortfall has been overcome and first
terminal of LNG has become fully operational adding 600 million square feet RLNG in the system.
Minister for Planning Dr. Ahsan Iqbal gave a detailed presentation on
various regional housing models for the low and middle income groups of the population which also included models from Singapore, Turkey and Malaysia.
Marriyum said the Prime Minister said that in view of the rapidly
growing urbanization the government would facilitate the low income groups meeting their housing needs. In this regard the cabinet gave approval for the constitution of a sub-committee comprising Minister for Housing (chair), Minister for Planning,Minister Railways, Minister for SAFRON, Principal Secretary to PM,Secretary Finance, representatives of State Bank and National Bank to orchestrate a detailed plan on housing within 10 days and present and to present it in the next Cabinet Meeting.
The minister said that the cabinet also approved a criteria based policy
for the regularization of the employees working on daily wages. The policy envisages age relaxation and additional marks in the interview. The age relaxation would be given in proportion to their length of service besides one mark for each year of the service rendered, in the interview, with maximum of five marks, she said. Dr Tariq Fazal added that the relaxation in age and addition marks will only be given to employees from grade-1 to grade-15 and vacancies above grade 15 would be filled through FPSC.
The cabinet also approved introduction of international standard bar
coding on the pharmaceutical products in the country to ensure their quality. She said that the bar coding system has already been
introduced in over hundred countries which was technology-based feature and the users would be able to decode the bar and read expiry date and its quality content. She said that 1976 Drug Act would be amended for this purpose.
She said that another agenda item approved by the cabinet was
outsourcing of management and maintenance of Lahore,Karachi and Islamabad airports. She said as per international practices civil aviation authorities perform their duty as regulator and not service provider. She said that the prevailing models include Build-Operate-Transfer and Build-Operate-Own. She said under the approved arrangement the CAA would regulate the operations of the private companies entrusted to perform different tasks. She further said that even private companies would be allowed to build airports in future.
The minister revealed that the cabinet had also given approval to 21
memorandums of understanding with different countries.
About the issue of death sentence awarded to Indian intelligence agency officer Kulbhushan Yadav, she said that there would be no compromise on national interests. She said that Defence Minister Khawaja Asif had given a policy statement in the Senate and Foreign Office has also given its stance in clear terms.
Dr Tariq Fazal said that Kulbhushan was awarded sentence under the law of the land and nobody could claim that he was being victimized. Any foreign national involved in subversive activities would have been given the same punishment as awarded to Indian officer ,he added.