LAHORE - The Punjab government has decided to take the unsettled issues with the federal government under 18th Amendment to the Council of Common Interests (CCI) if the later could not manage to settle former’s outstanding amount of over Rs100 billion of energy sector pending since 2006 and many other matters.

Some weeks ago, the council was desired in the second meeting to take up the outstanding issues with the federal government under the convenership of Minister for Finance Dr Aysha Pasha and Punjab Chief Secretary Capt (r) Zahid Saeed.

As per official documents, the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has desired that Finance Department and Energy Department should chalk out the strategy for taking up the case with federal government in the first instance, the committee was apprised. In case it remains unresolved, the issue will be raised in the CCI.

The secretary energy informed that government of the Punjab shall demand Rs102 billion in two parts; a lump sum amount of Rs 60 billion and the remaining Rs 42 billion to be arranged in installments and interests on the pending liabilities may also be highlighted. The secretary finance stated that a DO letter had been written to the federal government with regard to the demands of the Punjab government.

In pursuance of the decision made at the last meeting, the federal government had been requested in 2011 for devolution of Aiwan-e-lqbal Complex and Iqbal Academy Lahore but the same had not been done as yet.

Secretary labour was of the view that question of provincial department’s capacity to take over the devolved entities should not be raised at this point. Secretary l&C highlighted that the chief minister had already requested the federal government to devolve these institutions in his letter on 12th July, 2011. Therefore, the issue of capacity should be addressed by the administrative departments.

Social Welfare Department apprised the committee that the department did not have information regarding assets and employees of Pakistan Baitul Maal to ascertain the financial implications of taking over the institute. Many requests had been made to the federal government to provide the requisite information but the federal government was reluctant to share any authentic information. Punjab Chief Secretary expressed his concern that after a lapse of considerable time the department should have acquired the requisite information by now. He said that if the federal government was not cooperating with the provincial government efforts should have been made at a higher level.

The finance minister said that under the 18th Amendment, social protection was a provincial subject and Social Welfare Department should have gathered the information by now. It was expected of the department to submit the financial layout in the form of working paper in the next meeting. Minister for industries emphasised that finance and social welfare secretaries should have prepared financial layout of taking over the institution as per the decision made in the previous meeting. Punjab secretary desired that secretary social welfare shall make all efforts to get the requisite information regarding Pakistan Baitul Maal and prepare a proper case for taking over the institution from the federal government.

Secretary Forestry, Wildlife & Fisheries informed that Lahore High Court, Rawalpindi bench had banned hunting of endangered species. This order had recently been set aside by the Supreme Court. The matter was still pending adjudication before the Supreme Court. He said that the department had deliberated upon the subject and recommended that pivotal role regarding issuance of licence/ permits should rest with the concerned provincial government. Ministry of Climate Change should coordinate with the provinces, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs should request the provinces through Ministry of Climate Change. The provinces should convey to Ministry of Climate Change the areas where hunting could be allowed. Ministry of Foreign Affairs should send recommendations of the foreign dignitaries for issuance of licence/permits to the provincial government. The chair concluded that Foreign Office should request the provinces for the licence/permit for hunting areas through Ministry of Climate Change.

Secretary l&C briefed the committee that SMBR would approach the federal government through the Law and Parliamentary Affairs Department, the chief secretary and the chief minister for amendment in the Evacuee Trust Property Act, 1975 so that ETPB issue could be settled.

Chief Secretary observed that field formations should not confuse Evacuee Properties with the Evacuee Trust Properties.