ISLAMABAD   -  Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Thursday said chairman of the high-powered inquiry commission on loans would be appointed within a week and its terms of reference were being finalized.

Addressing a press conference along with Federal Minister for Food Security Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan and Chairman Kissan Board Khalid Khokhar here, she said that opposition parties and a section of media have given the impression that the prime minister himself would head the commission which was incorrect.

She said that some harsh steps had been taken in the budget in order to stabilize the national economy. Agriculture sector was the backbone of the national economy but the previous government ruined that vital sector by imposing heavy cuts in its allocations, she added.

Dr. Awan said that special incentives would be given to farmers to convert their tube wells on solar energy system and there was a proposal to totally abolish taxes on import of solar panels import. She said that agricultural tube wells electricity bill upto Rs 10,000 would be paid by the farmers while from Rs10,000 upto Rs 75,000 would be shared by the federal and provincial governments, which would prove helpful in revival of the ailing  sector. On the occasion, Sahibzada Mehboob said that the PTI government has increased budget allocations for agriculture sector by 1200 percent to revive agriculture and livestock sectors.

He said that for the first time the PTI government, by giving priority to the agriculture, has allocated 12.5 billion rupees in the budget, which was just one billion rupees earlier. He said the government is also going to launch 13 projects at a cost of 296 billion rupees to promote agriculture and livestock sectors in the country.

He said that being a devolved subject, the federal government will chip in 93.5 billion rupees, while provinces are expected to contribute 50 billion rupees to promote the agriculture sector.

Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan said water conservation is another feature of these projects, which will focus on water course lining, development of small dams and their command areas, and establishment of check dams and ponds to store water for irrigation purposes.

He said he will try to get electricity rates reversed for agriculture sector at 5.35 rupees per unit, which have been enhanced to 6.85 rupees per unit in the budget.

 

Khalid Khokhar said the government should abolish General Sales Tax on agriculture machinery.

Replying to a question, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan claimed that the Sharif family misused official resources for promotion of their personal business during their rule. She said it was ironic that the sons for whom Nawaz Sharif plundered national wealth and purchased properties abroad today proudly stated they were not Pakistani nationals and did not bother to come to inquire after his health in the prison.

Warning Maryam Nawaz to stop criticizing Prime Minister Imran Khan, she said it was strange that plunderers were targeting the prime minister.

She said that all would have to be answerable to law and Constitution for their misdeeds. She said that time had proved that all corrupt elements were united on one front which had vindicated Imran Khan’s stance that they had same interests.

To a question, she said they are going to revamp state institutions like PTV, Radio Pakistan and APP. She said the government is going to formulate a new advertising media policy after consulting stakeholders.