PM asks cabinet members to introduce policies in public interest

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APP113-23 ISLAMABAD: April 23 - Prime Minister Imran Khan chairing meeting of the Federal Cabinet at Prime Minister Office. APP

ISLAMABAD, Apr 23 (APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday directed his cabinet members to introduce policies in the public interest and improve their performance in order to resolve the issues faced by the people.
Briefing media persons about the decisions of Federal Cabinet meeting, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan said the prime minister had already assigned targets to his economic team led by Adviser on Finance Dr Hafeez Sheikh in order to create a people-friendly budget.
She said it was stressed in the meeting that the ministers should ensure their presence during sessions of the National Assembly and Senate, and focus on resolution of people’s problems.
The prime minister, she said, “believes that democracy means serving the masses, empowering them and resolving their problems.”
Firdous said in the past democracy was weakened by corruption and certain individuals became stronger. The prime minister, however, had a clear vision of keeping national interest supreme at all costs, she added.
She said the drugs prices would be brought down to realistic level in near future after consultation with all the stakeholders. Special Assistant to the PM on National Health Services Dr Zafarullah Mirza briefed the cabinet on his findings regarding increase in the drug prices.
A meeting with the representatives of pharmaceutical companies and other stakeholders would be held soon to bring down the prices of medicines, so that the people could easily bear their treatment charges, she added.
The additional amount charged by the pharmaceutical companies, she said, would be recovered by the government, and deposited with the Pakistan Baitul Maal and utilized to provide free treatment to poor patients of various diseases.
Firdous said the forthcoming visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China was also discussed by the cabinet. A new better Free Trade Agreement (FTA) would be signed with China during the visit in order to protect the local industry. The existing FTA could not cater to the interests of local industry and it had rather negative impacts on it. However, due to successful diplomacy of the prime minister, China had agreed to sign the new FTA on the pattern of one it had signed with ASEAN countries on much better terms, she added.
She said Advisor on Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood apprised the federal cabinet that 450 Pakistani businessmen would visit China to look for business opportunities that would translate into more production, job opportunities and poverty reduction in the country.
Firdous said the cabinet was briefed on inflation and rising prices of essential items. The cabinet decided to have check on the prices of essential items during the holy month of Ramadan and keep an eye on hoarders and cartels.
The inflation during the last eight months of the incumbent government, she said, was less as compared to that during the same periods of previous two regimes. However, a comprehensive mechanism was being evolved to reduce the margin of profit of the middlemen. The provinces had also been tasked to fulfill their responsibility for controlling prices of the daily use items, she added.
Firdous said the cabinet also discussed the LNG (liquefied natural gas) agreements signed by the previous government, which were very expensive and not in the interest of Pakistan. The new LNG agreements would be transparent, based on competitive pricing as the national interest would be kept supreme.
She said the Federal Cabinet endorsed the policies of Prime Minister Imran Khan and his vision of corruption-free democracy, which was meant only to empower the common people and resolve their problems.
The special assistant said the cabinet members congratulated the prime minister on his successful visit to Iran, which was extremely important in present regional scenario. The prime minister in his speech there gave a way forward for regional peace, stability and economic connectivity.
She thanked the Iranian leadership for supporting Pakistan’s stance on the Kashmir issue. Pakistan had to increase its trade with immediate neighbours to reap the benefits of bilateral ties. The visit also proved successful in removing the misunderstandings between the two brotherly countries, she added.
Replying to questions of media persons, Firdous said the recent reshuffle in the Federal Cabinet was taken to improve its performance. A balanced cabinet comprising elected and technocrat members was a norm all over the world.
To a question, she said Turkey, Russia, China and India were doing trade with Iran through agreements, and Pakistan would also take a decision to have trade with Iran keeping its own interest supreme.
She said if the government was not worried about the hike in drug prices, the prime minister would not have removed his close aide from the post of health minister.
The leaders of former ruling parties, she said, were giving lectures on economy on various television channels but in actual fact it were their parties which had played havoc with the national economy and the country was on verge of bankruptcy when the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf came to power.
To a question about the proposed asset declaration scheme, she said it would be finalized by the new economic team and then presented to relevant forum for approval soon.
Firdous said the government would take steps for provision of relief to the working journalists and an interim wage board award would be announced soon for the media workers.
Replying to a question, she said the government was ready to talk to the opposition if it stopped making the parliament a ‘political arena’.