ISLAMABAD             -        Pakistan remains a safe and least affected country against the coronavirus pandemic as compared to other parts of the world and the cabinet has expressed its satisfaction that the PTI government’s policy to contain the pandemic has proved very successful, said Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz here yesterday. The minister was briefing the media here about the cabinet decisions.

The cabinet meeting held detailed discussion on coronavirus situation in the country with a note that the Covid-19 is on the decline and lauded the role and endeavours played by relevant departments to contain the pandemic in the country. He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had devised a strategy against coronavirus pandemic keeping in view the ground realities and situation of the country.

To contain outbreak and spread of coronavirus pandemic, the Minister lauded the role and efforts of National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) being a role model institution.

He said that Pakistan remained a safe and protected country in view of the damages by coronavirus as compared to other countries of the world.

He said that when the coronavirus was reported in Pakistan; there were only two labaortories with testing capacity of Covid-19 but during the last four months, 129 laboratories all over Pakistan are conducting coronavirus tests. He said that preventive measures against Coronavirus are only remedy to be safe and urged the public to ensure preventive and social distancing measures on the eve of Eid ul Azha to contain the outbreak.

The minister disclosed that the cabinet has approved the appointment of Air Marshal Arshad Malik as Chief Executive of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). He said that 28 pilots of PIA have been dismissed from service for having faked and dubious licenses.

He said that an action has been started against officials of PIA and Civil Aviation Authority, responsible for issuing the fake licenses. 

The Minister said that the cabinet was also briefed about the progress on sugar inquiry report. It was told that the sugar reforms committee has been constituted with the objective to ensure provision of sugar at affordable prices to the people.

The minister said that action is being taken against all the elements responsible for mismanagement and embezzlements in state institutions.

He also underlined that all dubious licenses holders were inducted in PIA during the regimes of PPP and PML-N.

The government has announced a tax-free budget despite economic challenges in the wake of coronavirus pandemic in the country, he mentioned.

The minister said that the the Ahsas Program proved to be a positive initiative on part of the government to assist poor segments of the society in the wake of coronavirus pandemic lockdown, said Senator Shibli Faraz.

The cabinet has decided to launch phase-II of Ehsas Cash Programme to mitigate sufferings of weaker segments of the society.

About the Ehsas Emergency Cash Programme, the minister said that this initiative was commended internationally as 150 billion rupees were distributed among deserving people in a transparent manner.

He said the cabinet also lauded Finance Advisor Hafeez Sheikh and his team for presenting a tax-free budget, despite difficult situation in the wake of COVID-19.

Regarding dealing with the challenge of COVID-19 pandemic, Shibli Faraz said the government has formulated strict rules and regulations to avoid spread of Coronavirus and district administrations have been directed to ensure implementation of these precautionary measures on the eve of upcoming Eid-ul-Azha.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan announced to celebrate Eid-ul-Azha at his residence and he also urged the people to celebrate the occasion, while staying at homes in a bid to contain spread of the coronavirus.

Commenting on the issues relating to Pakistani pilots, the minister said the government is taking steps to secure air travel as well as strengthen engineering side of the Pakistan International Airlines.

The minister also stated that effective legislation mechanism is being made to keep contain money laundering practices.

He also said that all appointments in all state institutions in key positions are being made on merit in order to restore integrity of state institutions.