PM chairs cabinet meeting


ISLAMABAD, Mar 25 (APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting of federal cabinet here on Wednesday.

The meeting discussed agenda items and other important issues relating to Covid-19 pandemic and the current financial situation.

During the briefing, SAPM Dr Firdous said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi apprised the PM that his (Imran Khan’s) statement regarding lifting of international sanctions from Iran was not only being appreciated by the Iranians but also the International Court of Justice endorsed this suggestion in a decision.

“The leading role played by Imran Khan, in shaking the world conscience and raising voice in Iran’s support after the coronavirus outbreak there, is being admired at every level.”

She said the debt relief programme proposed by the PM and his efforts to take up the idea at international fora including South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and Group of 77, was also getting acknowledgment globally.

The SAPM said the cabinet underlined the need for engaging youth and overseas Pakistanis in the government efforts to effectively combat the COVID-19.

She said a Volunteers Task Force would be formed to guide the youth in assisting destitute and elderly to fight the coronavirus pandemic. “A structure and roadmap for the Task Force will be announced shortly.”

Dr Firdous said the overseas Pakistan was such an asset of the country that always stood by the nation in testing times.

The Prime Minister, she said, had decided to set up an international fund for the coronavirus. Accordingly, a roadmap would be prepared in due course of time, she added.

Dr Firdous said the cabinet had deferred the first agenda related to the Ministry of Energy (Power Division) and directed to present it in the next meeting.

As regards the decisions made by it on March 12, the cabinet directed for circulating the minutes in the next meeting, she added.

The SAPM said the cabinet unanimously approved tax exemption on the payment of profit on foreign commercial loans after a briefing from the Ministry of Finance.

It also accorded approval for the reorganization of SME Banks’s board, she added.

Dr Firdous said the cabinet also gave approval to the appointment of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Ignite Technology Fund for three months, and directed the Ministry of Information and Technology to appoint CEOs of its attached departments as soon as possible.

The cabinet had a detailed discussion on the National Electric Vehicle Policy and directed that the matter might be discussed by the Economic Coordination Committee and after consultation with all the relevant ministries resubmitted for approval.

On the request of the National History and Literary Heritage Division, the cabinet approved change of its name to the National Heritage and Culture Division.

The cabinet decided to lease of the Evacuee Trust Property Board’s (ETPB) land situated in the Larkana district at the rate of Rs 4,500 per acre.

Dr Firdous said the current account deficit reduced by 31 percent, trade balance improved by 34 percent, foreign remittances increased by 5.4 percent ($15.1 billion), and the prices of essential items registered significant decrease.

Dr Firdous said the pathetic condition of health and other sectors in Punjab had fully exposed the so-called performance of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Shehbaz Sharif, who ruled the province as chief minister for a decade. The Sharifs should better bring back the looted money, which they had stashed abroad, so that the same could be used for the betterment of the people of the county.

The opposition should better help the government in efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country, she stressed, regretting the absence of Pakistan Peoples Party Chariman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Shehbaz Sharif, who is also Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, from the orientation session of parliamentary leaders hosted by NA Speaker Asad Qaiser. The opposition should avoid criticism for the sake of criticism as the government would welcome positive suggestions from them, she added.

She said national harmony was dire need of time so as to curb the coronavirus contagion through concerted efforts.

All the political parties should register their suggestions regarding containing of the coronavirus at the forum of the parliament and the Prime Minister Office, the SAPM said.

The political parties, she said, should also realize their obligation to mobilize the entire nation in the fight against the pandemic. All the stakeholders should play their due role under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan in rooting out the menace from the country.