President Dr. Arif Alvi has said that amendments in Ombudsman existing laws are vital to make the institution more effective and to provide free of cost and expeditious relief to the common man by resolving their grievances.

Addressing Federal Ombudsmen's conference at Aiwan-e-Sadr on Tuesday, he said the Ombudsmen played vital role in addressing the complaints of the people against administrative injustices.

The conference was attended by federal ombudsman Syed Tahir Shahbaz, Federal\ Tax Ombudsman Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera, Federal Ombudsman for Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Kashmala Tariq, Banking Mohtasib Pakistan Muhammad Kamran Shahzad and Federal Insurance Ombudsman Dr. Muhammad Khawar Jameel.

President Alvi further stated that the institution of Ombudsman had been doing a remarkable job in addressing the grievances of the people.

He directed the federal ombudsmen to enhance their outreach to remote areas of the country so as the people could be benefited by the speedy and free of cost justice being provided by them.

The President advised the participants to launch a media campaign aiming to create awareness among people about the role of ombudsmen in providing swift relief to the people.

He also asked the ombudsmen to digitalise their record and use latest technology tools that help in provision of speedy justice and promoting good governance.

Federal Ombudsman Syed Tahir Shahbaz, gave a comprehensive presentation about the achievements of his organisation and informed that the ombudsman had disposed of 75,000 complaints during 2019 while 97% of the decisions had been implemented.

Federal Tax Ombudsman Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera briefed the conference that his institution had disposed of 2,633 cases out of 3,171 during 2019.

Federal ombudsman for protection against harassment of women at workplace Kashmala Tariq apprised of the role of the institution in protecting the rights of women.

She proposed amendment to the existing law "The Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010" so as to more effectively safeguards the rights of women.

Banking Mohtasib Pakistan Muhammad Khurram Shahzad informed that the Mohtasib had amicably resolved 10,324 cases out of 15,639 during 2019.

Federal Insurance Ombudsman Dr. Muhammad Khawar Jameel briefed the conference about the initiatives taken by his organisation during 2019.

While appreciating the role and contribution of Ombudsmen in providing speedy justice, President Alvi congratulated them and expressed the hope that they would continue their efforts in serving the people.

Cabinet directs provinces for constituting provincial finance commissions

 The Federal Cabinet on Tuesday issued directives to the provincial governments for the constitution of provincial finance commissions to ensure equitable distribution of development funds among various areas of the provinces in order bring the less developed ones at par with the developed.

Briefing news persons here about the decisions taken in the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz said Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar would supervise the matters pertaining to the Provincial Finance Commission in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

Shibli Faraz said generally chief ministers and influential provincial ministers utilised development funds in their own constituencies, which created a sense of deprivation among the people of other areas. Under the Provincial Finance Commission, every district would get its share of development funds under a formula.

He said that the cabinet directed the missions abroad to take steps for the release of some 11,376 Pakistanis jailed in various countries.

The prime minister directed that legal assistance should be provided to the prisoners and the missions should strive for their early repatriation to Pakistan if any relief was possible for them due to the coronavirus, the Information Minister added.

He said the prime minister expressed his determination to ensure transparency in the Senate elections. Questions were raised on the transparency and fairness of Senate election in the recent past.

Shibli Faraz said the appointment of heads of various government institutions was a big challenge as no proper system had been evolved for the purpose in the past where irregularities were committed in such nominations.

The prime minister, he said, wanted a system be in place to nominate suitable persons for the key posts. Dr Ishrat Hussain committee was asked to make a comprehensive plan and introduce a transparent system for such nominations on fast-track basis, he added.

The Information Minister said it was told that the cabinet of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had so far held 93 meetings, in which a total of 1,759 decisions were made, with 1,579 of them implemented, 46 were in the process of implementation and 28 were facing delay. The cabinet discussed the issue of delay and various suggestions were given to ensure implementation of the delayed decisions.

On the issue of healthcare, he said as the government had limited resources, joint ventures with the private sector were proposed to build hospitals on the state land to improve the infrastructure.

The cabinet also discussed the proposal to set up Hajj Fund and steps would be taken to ensure that no institution would spend pension funds for any other purpose. For the Hajj Fund, he added, the Malaysian model would be followed after removing legal hurdles in its establishment.

The cabinet was also briefed on the proposal to provide solar stoves to the people in northern Pakistan to prevent deforestation in the region.

The cabinet decided to discuss the gas tariff and K-Electric issues in next meeting.