Islamabad - The federal cabinet which with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair on Tuesday discussed removal of PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL) and referred the issue to its sub-committee for consideration.

“The federal government cannot allow PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz Sharif to fly abroad without any ‘concrete reasons’,” Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan told press conference after the cabinet meeting.

“Why does she need to visit her ailing father in London when all of her relatives including her siblings are there to take care of him,” she asked.

Firdous said Maryam’s application was under consideration of federal cabinet’s sub-committee; however, she hinted that the government was not willing to strike off the travel ban over “weak grounds”.

“Law Minister Farogh Naseem apprised the federal cabinet that there is no law which allows convicts to travel abroad to visit their ailing relatives,” she added.

Directs Law Ministry to devise mechanism to curb projection of convicts, absconders by media

The Cabinet also expressed its concerns over the way some media outlets were giving unnecessary projection to convicts and absconders wanted by the law especially those accused of having caused losses to the tune of billions of rupees to the national exchequer.

Firdous said the cabinet expressed its displeasure over unnecessary projection of the absconders and convicted criminals and telecast of their statements on news channels by certain media outlets.

“The cabinet members viewed that there is no precedent in any civilised society to allow such criminals involved in plundering billions of rupees from the national exchequer to use the media as a tool. The minister for water resources informed the cabinet meeting that he has written a letter to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to draw its attention towards this issue.”

The law ministry, she said, was directed to devise a mechanism in coordination with PMERA and media stakeholders to curb that practice.

 

RELIEF FOR PUBLIC

 

The Cabinet also deliberated on various suggestions to remove obstacles to provide maximum relief to people as envisioned by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Firdous said the cabinet considered relief measures for public, public interest legislation and various initiatives of the government including subsidy in prices of gas and electricity.

Prime Minister took detailed briefing from Ministry of Water and Power and Ministry of Oil and Gas.

During a briefing by Water and Power Division, the cabinet was informed that when the PTI government came to power, circular debt was very high which was brought down by this government. The cabinet was informed that Rs 242 billion subsidy was given to protect consumers using up to 300 electricity units from fuel adjustment effects.

Firdous said the industrial sector was given Rs29 billion subsidy whereas the Rs100 billion subsidy was given to agriculture sector. She said the PM also directed the Water and Power Division to bring the summary of fixed billing for tubewell farmers in the next meeting. The cabinet also asked the division to take steps for redressing consumers’ reservations about tampering of meters by DISCOs employees which results in additional burden on consumers.

Ministry of Oil and Gas in its briefing told the cabinet that it inherited a loss of 181 billion rupees which was managed. The briefing said a subsidy of Rs10 billion was given to farmers while a sum of Rs30 billion has been allocated for next year in subsidy.

The Prime Minister directed the Ministry of Oil and Gas to ensure provision of uninterrupted gas supply to domestic consumers.

He directed to bring reforms in Sui Southern and Sui Northern Gas companies with the introduction of automation. A mechanism should also be developed for billing so that in winter months the consumers are not burdened with heavy gas bills.

Firdous said the meeting took stock of 15-month performance of the government.

 

SUKKUK BONDS

 

The cabinet expressed reservations on the issuance of Sukkuk Bonds. The Prime Minister directed the Finance Ministry to review the process and present it again in the next meeting.

The Prime Minister directed to equip hospitals and health facilities in the federal area with the latest equipment and facilities.

Imran directed the Law Ministry to identify the cases which relate to sugar, flour and other commodities associations that have taken relief from the courts at the expense of public interest.

A committee under Dr Ishrat Hussain was set up to bring a policy on food laws in consultation with the provinces.

The cabinet also gave approval for the appointment of Justice Abdullah Baloch of Balochistan High Court as Special Judge of Appellant Court Balochistan to curb smuggling in the province which was hindering the local industry’s growth.

The cabinet also approved the appointment of Irfan Mustafa, Zulqarnain Ali Khan and Haris Chaudhary as members of the board of governors of Overseas Pakistanis Foundation, and reconstitution of the governing body of Workers Welfare Fund.

It also gave approval for additional charge of director general Civil Aviation Authority to Secretary Aviation Hassan Nasir Jamy.

It approved signing of a memorandum of understanding with Afghanistan for cooperation on narcotics control.

The cabinet offered Fateha on the sad demise of hero of 1971 war Colonel Suleiman.