ISLAMABAD   -  Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz Friday asked the opposition parties to act responsibly and put off their campaign for vested interests as the ongoing second wave of the coronavirus was turning dangerous.

Addressing a press conference here along with Advisor to the Prime Minister for Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain, he said the people, who came in rallies from all parts of the country, became carriers of the coronavirus. The provincial governments would take steps to discourage public meetings and in case of violation of law action would be taken against the political leaders and organisers.

He said the coronavirus was a reality as evident from the neighbouring countries where the situation was the worst. However, Pakistan’s economy had come out of the crisis caused by the deadly disease, he added.

He said when the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government took charge; it initiated the process for institutional reforms as the institutions had lost their significance with the passage of time.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan formed a competent team led by Dr Ishrat Hussain to reform and make the institutions effective. “Now we have to see where we stand and where we are heading.”

Shibli Faraz said inefficiency and corruption prevailed in the institutions in the past. The important institutions like Radio Pakistan, Pakistan Television and Pakistan Steel Mills were stuffed with favourites without merit.

Similarly, institutions like Pakistan National Council of Arts, Lok Virsa and universities were spending 80 percent of their funds on salaries and administrative expenses, he added.

Every government, he said, had made political appointments in the institutions, which lost their standing. On the contrary, now the appointments on higher posts were done through selection board and nobody was challenging them in courts, he added.

On this occasion, Prime Minister’s Advisor on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain said that Pakistan Railways would be divided into five companies, under the restructuring plan, to enhance its performance. 

The plan is aimed at restructuring of Pakistan Railways, Federal Board of Revenue, and Pakistan Steel Mills, along with a transparent appointment and promotion policies of heads of various state institutions.

Dr Ishrat Hussain said one of the five companies will comprise a regulator, independent of Pakistan Railways, and it will regulate safety measures and take action on accidents.

He said second company will look after ML-1, the third company will take care of railways track and be solely supervised by the government, while fourth and fifth companies will deal with freight and passenger issues respectively.

The Advisor said a package has been prepared to make Pakistan Steel Mills functional. He said under the package the PSM will be handed over to a private company to enhance its production up to three million tons. Regarding plans to restructure PIA, Dr Ishrat Hussain said total strength of employees will be slashed from existing 14,000 to 7,000 by introducing a voluntary separation scheme. Talking about reforms in FBR, the Advisor said automation is being introduced to reduce human involvement in the tax collection mechanism, which will ensure transparency and enhance people’s trust. Commenting on the promotion policy, he said government has adopted a transparent and efficiency based mechanism for promotion of government officers instead of considering seniority yardstick.