ISLAMABAD                    -                Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar Tuesday said the Federal Cabinet decided to make public the report relating to corruption in the power sector, and an Independent Commission of Inquiry will also be constituted to probe the issues pertaining to Independent Power Producers within ninety days.

In a separate media briefing after the Cabinet meeting on this specific issue, he said any person involved in irregularities and violation of the law will be taken to task, but those investors, who invested in the power sector to generate electricity in Pakistan and did not violate any law, will be protected.

Earlier, briefing the media about decisions taken by the Cabinet on Tuesday, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the Federal Cabinet has decided to make public the inquiry report regarding the agreements signed by the previous governments with IPPs.

 She said Prime Minister Imran Khan told the Cabinet that the nation would simultaneously fight the coronavirus and the virus of corruption. She quoted the Prime Minister as saying that there was no holy cow in the country and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government would ensure that all involved in corruption and illegal practices were taken to task.

SAPM said the Chunian Power Plant was one of the IPP agreements, which was approved by Shehbaz Sharif as Punjab Chief Minister in favour of the company owned by his son Salman Shehbaz. An independent commission of inquiry would be constituted to probe the issues pertaining to the IPPs, and its report and recommendations would be made public, she added.

She also revealed that the Federal Cabinet has decided to waive off various taxes on services relating to the construction industry. She said five percent tax was being charged to property dealers, property developers and other services related to the construction industry, which had been abolished.

She said cabinet also decided to reduce tax on various services of the construction industry from five percent to zero.

SAPM said tax on low cost housing units to be constructed under Naya Pakistan Housing Project has also been made zero-rated.

She said providing relief to the construction industry will protect the rights of daily wagers, plumbers, carpenters, developers and other stakeholders of this sector.

Dr Awan revealed that the Cabinet also approved reforms in Competition Commission of Pakistan to ensure effective implementation of anti-hoarding law and to protect rights of the common people.

The objective behind the establishment of CCP, she said, was to discourage cartelization and monopolies, and take action against those indulging in such illegal practices. But unfortunately, in the past, the CCP was used by powerful mafias as a tool to protect their interests at the cost of the rights of poor people. The PM had decided to remove its chairperson, but she got a stay order from the court, Dr Awan added.

Dr Awan said the cabinet was informed that 27 petitions had been filed against the CCP and dues of Rs 27 billion were outstanding against powerful mill owners. She said some cases had been pending for over a decade, and elements in CCP were facilitating powerful mafias in prolonging the litigation process. She said the CCP would now be restructured with the use of modern technology and digitalization.

She said the Prime Minister expressed strong displeasure over the CCP’s current state of affairs and reiterated his firm resolves to foil any attempts to damage the interests of masses for those of the influential people.

She said the Cabinet also gave approval for filling the vacancies of the appellate tribunal within a week.

She said it also approved abolishing a law of 1991 under which the government employees, who took retirement on completion of 30-year service, could keep the official accommodation till 60 years of age.

The Special Assistant said approval to reconstitute National Commission for Minorities was also granted in the meeting. She said the Cabinet also approved uniform policy regarding official residences of government employees, withdrawing all perks granted under 1991 Order.

Dr Firdous said the minority community members played an important role in the national development process, and their rights were protected under the constitution. She said the Prime Minister issued directives to Minister for Energy Umar Ayub to present a restructuring and reformation plan for the power sector to prevent line losses and power theft by digitalisation of the system.

She said the Cabinet also decided to offer IESCO and PESCO for privatisation.

The Special Assistant said Cabinet also approved export of Chloroquine to USA, Saudi Arabia, UK, Italy, Qatar, Turkey and Kazakhstan as Pakistan has an additional stock of the drug.

SAPM said the opposition leaders were issuing political statements at the time when the nation was fighting the coronavirus. She said as the National Accountability Bureau summoned Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Shehbaz Sharif, his party leaders came out of self-isolation in a bid to protect him. She said the PML-N leaders were more worried about the Sharif family than the problems being faced by the poor people due to the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown.

Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan said no funds would be issued for Tiger Corona Force, whose volunteers would help the government in providing relief to the vulnerable segments of the society.