APP42-31 ISLAMABAD: December 31 - Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting, Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan briefing the media persons about the decisions taken in the Federal Cabinet meeting. APP

ISLAMABAD, Dec 31 (APP):Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan Tuesday said the government would launch Rs 6 billion subsidy programme in the first week of January to provide essential items, including flour, rice, edible oil and pulses etc to the people through Utility Store Corporation (USC) at affordable prices.

Briefing the media here about the Federal Cabinet decisions, she said the cabinet, in its last meeting of the outgoing year chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, discussed in detail the priorities set for the new year. It also discussed the achievements of government despite various challenges faced in the outgoing year.

Dr Firdous said the Financial Assistance Card (FAC) was also being launched in last week of next month for the deprived and unprivileged segments of the society to provide them financial assistance, while their health needs would be met through the Sehat Insaf Card.Those, who were not registered with the data bank, would be supported through the ‘Langar Khana’ scheme, she added.

She said the cabinet was briefed about the economic indicators and the steps taken by the government during the last year. It was told that the country’s exports and foreign reserves witnessed significant increase while inflation experienced downward trend.

The current account and trade deficits witnessed 73 per cent and 43 per cent decrease respectively, with 17 per cent increase in the tax collection by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and 14.7 per cent in the exports, it was further informed.

She said the cabinet was told that the foreign direct investment in the country was increased by 1268 per cent from $147 million in the previous year to $2.6 billion during the outgoing year.

The special assistant said the cabinet was also apprised that Rs 87 billion had been spent under the annual Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) so far while Rs 700 billion more would be spent under the programme. The prime minister directed to give more priority to the projects under the PSDP, she said.

She said funds had also been transferred to the provinces and the prime minister asked to take details from the provinces about their spending on the development programmes.
Dr Firdous said Prime Minister also took notice of closure of sugar mills causing hardships to the sugarcane growers. A special economic committee would look into cotton and sugarcane support prices gathering information from the market, she said.

She said the cabinet referred back amendment in the NEPRA (National Electric Power Regulatory Authority) Act to the Economic Coordination Committee for further deliberation.

Dr Firdous said the cabinet decided to make the National College of Arts as a national institute, with campuses in all the provinces.

The cabinet also formally approved to publish the financial report of State Bank of Pakistan for the year 2008. It also gave its consent to the appointment of Muhammad Hashim Raza and Shahid Saleem Khan as Chief Executive Officer of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA), and Managing Director of Oil and Gas Development Company Limited respectively.

The SAPM said the cabinet declared 2020 as the year of economic progress, prosperity and public relief, while lauding the prime minister’s initiative of establishing shelter homes (Panah Gah) for the homeless and poor masses.

She said the cabinet strongly condemned Indian forces’ atrocities on innocent Kashmiris in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir. A unanimous resolution was also passed by the cabinet to flay state-sponsored brutalities and barbarities on the innocent Kashmiris, she said.

She said the prime minister informed the cabinet about steps taken by the government during the last five months for highlighting the plight of innocent Kashmiris at the international fora.

The cabinet members, while lauding the prime minister for effectively highlighting the Kashmir issue, urged the international community as well as human right organizations to take notice of Indian atrocities and barbarities in the occupied valley.

Dr Firdous said the meeting also discussed the NAB ordinance in detail. It was observed that the ordinance would facilitate the business community and pave way for investment in the country resulting more jobs opportunities.

Replying to a question, the SAPM said it was the state’s responsibility to provide shelter and homes to the poor segments of the society. Prime Minister Imran Khan would launch the FAC programme on January 20, 2020, she added.

Responding to another question, Firdous said 100 industries, including textile industry, were totally shut down during the time of previous regimes. The incumbent government had taken steps for revival of the industries and now the people were getting job opportunities .

She criticized the opposition parties’ hypocrisy, as they had been demanding amendment in the NAB laws for the last 11 years as was carried out by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government. They were in fact overjoyed, but they were doing politics over the issue. The ordinance would be tabled in the Parliament and the opposition parties, if they wanted, could propose changes in it there, she added.