LAHORE - The Punjab cabinet on Tuesday finalised a number of matters. They include arrangements and security plan for free, transparent, impartial and peaceful conduct of general elections in the province, up-gradation of Fatima Jinnah Medical College to Fatima Jinnah Medical University, reduction in entertainment tax and tax exemption for circus for providing recreational facilities to citizens and finalising a short-term plan for improving efficiency of WASA.

The cabinet meeting, presided by the Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Najam Sethi, was attended by provincial minister, Advisor on Taxation & Revenue, Chief Secretary Punjab, secretaries of various departments and Advocate General Punjab. The meeting also reviewed Punjab Freedom of Information Act 2013, Noor International University Lahore Act 2013, Punjab Senior Citizen Welfare Ordinance 2013 and measures for recovery of general sales tax from restaurants.

Addressing the meeting, Chief Minister Najam Sethi said that arrangements have been finalised for transparent and peaceful conduct of general elections while security arrangements have also been completed for a peaceful atmosphere. He said that control rooms have been set up at the offices of all Divisional Commissioners and District Coordination Officers. The Chief Minister directed maximum facilities should be provided to representatives of national and international media for the coverage of elections at divisional and district levels.

He said that a plan has been evolved for the safe transportation of election staff, ballot papers and other election material to the polling stations on the elections day and police officials have been assigned this responsibility. He said that there is a complete ban on carrying of mobile phones by voters into the polling stations and directed that this restriction should be strictly enforced. He further said that Punjab Election Coordination Committee has been constituted at the provincial level which is constant contact with the concerned officers at divisional and district levels. Najam Sethi said that provision of security to the leaders of political parties is the duty of the government and it will perform all its responsibilities in this regard. He further directed that concerned officers at the district and divisional level should maintain contact with the leaders of political parties. He said that generators, emergency lights and gas lamps should be arranged at the polling stations on May 11 so that process of counting of votes is not disrupted by loadshedding. He said that drinking water and other facilities should also be provided to the voters at polling stations.

The CM further said that in order to provide maximum recreational facilities to the masses, decision has been taken to reduce entertainment tax while circus has been exempted from tax as it is a cheap source of entertainment to the people. He said that access to information is the right of the citizens and Punjab Freedom of Information Act 2013 is of vital importance in this regard. He directed that Punjab Freedom of Information Act should be reviewed in detail and a report be submitted in the next meeting. 

Provincial Minister for Food Qaiser Zulfiqar Khan informed the meeting about the pace of progress of the wheat procurement campaign. Secretary Implementation briefed the meeting on arrangements and security plan for general elections.