LAHORE-Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar on Tuesday directed the officials to pay dues of the media houses at the earliest.

Presiding over a meeting of the media committee at his office, Buzdar laid stress on effective contacts between the government and the media. He said that funds would be released on priority for payment of media houses’ dues without any further delay. He said that duties should be performed in an active manner to sensitise people about the steps taken by the government for the public welfare. He said the information department and the Directorate General of Public Relations (DGPR) should project the government’s programmes in an effective manner. He said the government had worked day and night during the last eight months to provide relief to the masses and a new working culture had been introduced. He said the new local bodies system was a public welfare initiative in which powers would be devolved to the grassroots. In New Pakistan, he said, there was no room for an exploitative local bodies system. “Punjab will take a lead in every sector and people will be empowered,” the chief minister said.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information Iftikhar Durani, Information Minister Syed Sumsam Ali Bukhari, Spokesman for Chief Minister Dr Shahbaz Gill, information secretary, DGPR and others were also present.

Earlier, the chief minister presided over a meeting of the provincial parliamentary party at Punjab Assembly’s cafeteria. Addressing the meeting, the chief minister thanked the parliamentarians for reposing confidence in him during the previous meeting and assured them that he would come up to their expectations.

“You are my lieutenants and I am your companion. I understand your problems and we will work together for public welfare in such a way that it will always be remembered in the history. I have already said every assembly member is the chief minister and I reiterate that you are the chief minister and your genuine issues will be addressed on a priority basis,” he said.

Buzdar said the meeting with the assembly members took place after a brief gap due to some engagements. However, he said, he was resuming meetings with the assembly members. “We will solve people’s problems by visiting divisions and districts and prestige and honour of assembly members will be restored because their respect is my respect. The government will give importance to assembly members’ advice,” he said. He said that people of the province would be served in consultation with the elected representatives.

The chief minister said the local bodies system of the previous government was full of flaws and added that a new local bodies system was being introduced. “People will be empowered in the new local bodies system. Metropolitan corporations will be set up in every division of the province and development funds worth Rs40 billion will be devolved to the grassroots. The Punjab Assembly members are making a new parliamentary history by approving the new local bodies system and today a new history is being written,” he said.

Buzdar said that tehsil and panchayat councils would be established in villages and metropolitan corporations, municipal corporations and neighbourhood councils would be set up in cities. He said that elections of urban and tehsil councils would be held on a party basis, while elections of neighbourhood councils and panchayats will be held on non-party basis. He said that duration of local bodies is being unanimously fixed for a period of four years. He said the Punjab Assembly has taken a lead with regard to legislation in the country. He said that public welfare legislation done by the PTI government during the last eight months was unprecedented. With the grace of Allah Almighty, the process of public friendly legislation will continue in the future through the Punjab Assembly, he added.

Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat said that a legal mechanism had been adopted for the new local government bill and the opinion of the opposition had been given importance. He said the new local government act was being introduced with consensus. He said that restriction of education for mayor and speaker was being removed. The credit for the new local government system goes to Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Minister Usman Buzdar who guided the lawmakers at every point, he said. He said the PTI government was going to introduce a fully empowered local government system in Punjab. He gave a briefing about the new local government bill. Auqaf Minister Syed Saeedul Hassan Shah led Fateha for the departed soul of father of MPA Sardar Ahmad Ali Dreshak.

In his message on the World Labour Day, Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar said that Islam teaches welfare of labourers. “Islam has highlighted dignity of the labourers by terming them friends of the Allah Almighty. It has directed to pay remuneration of labourers immediately,” he said.

In his message, the chief minister said that labourers had rendered unforgettable sacrifices in Chicago on May 1, 1886 and this day reminds the world of the Martyrs of Chicago and their struggle against tyranny and oppression. In the new Pakistan, he said, labourers would get their rights because the country belongs to them and labourers will live an honourable life. He said that trained human resource was backbone of trade and industry and the government is taking steps for welfare of the labourers. Regrettably, he said, labourers were befooled by false promises and no practical measures were taken for their rehabilitation. However, he said, the incumbent government was improving the labour class’s quality of life through practical steps because provision of more and more facilities to labour was government’s mission.

He said that purpose of celebrating this day is to expedite the efforts to ensure dignity of labourers along with provision of reasonable wages. This day provides an opportunity to reiterate the commitment of ensuring rights of labourers and “we should reiterate the commitment that we will fully support them for achieving genuine rights and welfare of the labour, the chief minister said.