Cabinet decides to invoke SC’s advisory jurisdiction over open voting in Senate

Environment protection among foremost priorities of present govt: PM
File Photo

ISLAMABAD, Dec 15 (APP): The Federal Cabinet in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday decided to approach the Supreme Court with a reference under Article 186 of the Constitution seeking its advisory jurisdiction with regard to holding of Senate elections through open voting.

Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Javed Khan briefed the cabinet about the relevant laws regarding the Senate elections.

The cabinet discussed the issue of holding open votes instead of secret ballots. It was apprised that there was, prima facie, no constitutional bar on holding of open ballots in the Senate polls, the PM Office Media Wing said in a press release.

It was decided that a reference through the office of Attorney General for Pakistan would be moved before the apex court.

On the occasion, the prime minister stressed that the main purpose for legal reforms in the elections process was to ensure its transparency and declared that in that regard, doors for negotiations with all the political parties were always open.

The Ministry of Finance briefed the cabinet in detail about the federal allocation of funds for the provinces. The meeting was also apprised of the fiscal resources of the provinces.

Under the 7th National Finance Commission Award, 42.5 per cent allocation was made to the Federal Government while 57.5 pc went to the provinces. During the fiscal year 2018-19, the provinces were provided with Rs 2.4 trillion by the federation whereas from their own resources, the provinces generated Rs 496 billion.

In the year 2019-20, the Federal Government provided Rs 2.6 trillion to the provinces while the latter also received Rs 524 billion from their own resources. During the first five months of fiscal year 2020-21, the Federal Government had transferred Rs 1.06 trillion to the provinces, which also generated Rs 226 billion from their own resources during the period.

The cabinet was apprised that the Federal Government also provided funds to the provinces in other areas like law and order, natural calamities, health, education, Ehsaas Programme and development projects. It was also giving subsidies to the provinces in power, gas and daily use commodities under social protection.

PM’s Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar gave details about the payments under Ehsaas Kafalat Programme, Ehsaas Socio-Economic Survey and PM’s Covid Relief Fund.

It was apprised that in the past, due to errors and doubts in the old social protection system and poverty reduction survey, payments were made to the undeserving persons.

Dr Sania said the new door-to-door survey was under completion process which was digitally conducted. Under the Ehsaas Programme, about 7 million persons would be provided financial assistance and so far about 2.03 million people had been supported with the amount. A total of 31,543 undeserving persons were expelled from the database.

In the PM’s Covid Relief Fund, an amount of Rs1.081 had been received from the international donors whereas the local donors provided donations of Rs 3.805 billion. The total donations in the PM’s Relief Fund now stood at Rs 4.886 billion. Under the prime minister’s direction, the Federal Government had enhanced the amount to Rs 24.43 billion, the cabinet was further briefed.

The payments were being made from the fund in a complete transparent manner. A total of 2 million people had been assisted from the fund under emergency cash.
The prime minister said the Ehsaas Programme had been the biggest achievement of his government, which was acknowledged by the global institutions.

He said eradication of poverty had been his mission, and directed the provincial governments and the Islamabad administration to consider establishment of carts bazaars to support the livelihood of poor carts owners under the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic.

The cabinet was also briefed in detail over the report of the inquiry commission on shortage of petroleum products in the country. The cabinet approved constitution of a committee comprising federal ministers Asad Umar, Shafqat Mahmood, Dr Shaireen Mazari and Muhammad Azam Khan Swati to devise the mechanism for implementation of recommendations of the inquiry commission and submit its report in a week.

The prime minister resolved that after receiving the report, strict action would be taken against the responsible persons.

The cabinet was also briefed about the report of a committee over utilization of Metropolitan Club Islamabad. The cabinet directed for submission of a report along with recommendations for utilization of other buildings in its next meeting.

It granted approval to appointment of Lt. Gen. Akhtar Nawaz as Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

The cabinet also approved 3-year contract appointment of Asim Shaharyar Hussain as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Technology Fund. It also granted its approval for contractual appointments of Imran Maniar as Managing Director of the Sui Southern Gas Company Limited and Ali Javed Hamdani as Managing Director of the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited for a period three years each.

It also accorded approval to appointment of members of the board of directors of Public Partnership Authority. It approved re-organization of board of trustees of Employees Old Age Benefits Institution.

The cabinet also gave its approval for designation of community welfare attaché in five different embassies of Pakistan.

The cabinet approved floating of advertisement for appointment of CEOs of DISCOS (distribution companies).
The cabinet approved the remaining adjustment in the price of power during second and third quarters of fiscal year 2019-20 in accordance with the recommendation of National Electric Power Regulatory Authority. This approval will not burden the consumers.