LAHORE - In a bold decision under the National Action Plan, the Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday approved a plan to take over the administrative control of educational institutions and seminaries run by the banned religious outfits.

The provincial cabinet took this decision on the directions of the federal government.

Under the plan, the Punjab government will gain administrative control of these seminaries and institutes and funds would also be allocated for the purpose in the upcoming budget for the new fiscal year. Pakistan has been facing criticism from the world powers for not taking action against the seminaries projecting a narrow and radical face of Islam.

Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar presided over the 9th meeting of cabinet at his office which also accorded principled approval to decrease the length of service from four years to three years for regularisation of the contract employees. This decision would be equally implemented in all the departments in Punjab.

The meeting also approved Ramazan Package with subsidies on edible items. Under this package, fair price shops will be set up in 309 Ramazan Bazaars to provide eatables on subsidised rates. As per details, Rs80 subsidy will be given on the 10-kg flour bag which will be sold at Rs290 in Ramazan Bazaars. Similarly, sugar will be sold at Rs55 per kg, eggs will be available at a discount of Rs5 per dozen, chicken meat will be sold at a discount of Rs10 from the market and Rs15 to Rs20 per kg decrease will be made in the price of ghee and oil.

Ramazan Bazaars will start at the last week of Sha’aban and 2000 daster khawans will be set up during Ramzanul Mubarak.

The meeting decided to increase the number of existing 968 price-control magistrates in the province while a price-application has also been prepared for the monitoring of prices.

It was also decided that Ramazan Bazaars will function as Eid Bazaars during the last 10 days of Ramazan to sell Eid related items.

The Chief Minister directed to ensure strict monitoring of steps taken under Ramazan Package and asked Ministers, Advisers and Secretaries to monitor the Ramazan Bazaars.

He also directed to initiate indiscriminate action against hoarders and illegal profiteers and made it clear that the administration should initiate strict action against those responsible for creating artificial price-hike. Jail is the best place for such elements, he added.

He said that effective measures should be taken to stabilise the sugar prices and line departments should ensure it in collaboration with Sugar Mills Association. He said that government will go to every extent to give substantial relief to the common man and hoarding and price-hike will not be allowed during Ramazan-ul-Mubarak.

The meeting gave approval to granting technical allowance to the engineers of different provincial departments who are registered with Pakistan Engineering Council. The meeting decided to increase the minimum wage of skilled/unskilled workers along with the approval of Punjab Growth Strategy 2023.

Annual audit and performance report for 2015-16 of Punjab Judicial Academy was presented before the meeting and the cabinet decided to table it before the Punjab Assembly.

The meeting gave approval to amendment in Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion and Regulation) Rules 1984 to set up a registration authority. The meeting also gave approval to the draft of amendments in Punjab Health Foundation Act 2018. Under it, scope of PHF will be increased and Chairman will be elected from board members to make it a vibrant organisation.

The meeting approved to set up workers welfare fund in Punjab alongwith approval of settlement agreement relating to Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology.

The decision of giving 60 days remission to the prisoners confined in provincial jails was given approval as well. However, this decision will not apply to the prisoners sentenced under heinous crimes, espionage, activities against the State and terrorism.

The Chief Minister directed to early complete the survey of areas affected from rains and hailstorms so as to redress the damages of the farmers and more steps will be taken in the light of the survey report. The accounts reports of Auditor General of Pakistan about the Punjab government for the financial year 2016-17 were also presented before the meeting and the Cabinet decided to table these reports before the Punjab Assembly.

Provincial Ministers, Advisers, Special Assistants, Chief Secretary and others attended the meeting.