ISLAMABAD - The Council of Common Interests on Friday reached a consensus to conduct third-party audit of five percent of census blocks in urban Sindh, as demanded by the MQM.

Chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the 34th meeting of the forum also decided to establish a “National Task Force on Education Standards” but it failed to resolve the longstanding issue of the import of liquefied natural gas.

The CCI agreed at real-time monitoring of electricity production and allocation and loadshedding duration. It decided to form a committee of major stakeholders to analyse the proposed water policy.

The Statistics Division gave a detailed presentation to the CCI on the census issue. It was unanimously decided that one percent random sampling of the census data would now be enhanced to five percent and every effort would be made to complete the process within three months.

The third largest parliamentary opposition party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan had demanded third-party validation of the 6th census results for urban Sindh.

Prime Minister Abbasi had promised in the National Assembly to take up the issue at the CCI and he assured MQM-P chief Dr Farooq Sattar of increasing the census blocks for audit from one to five percent.

Discussing matters related to higher education and related bodies in the post-18th amendment scenario, the council decided to constitute a task force.

The National Task Force on Education Standards would look into the issues and make recommendations on development and uniformity of curriculum, the medium of instruction, quality of education and other related issues.

The participants thoroughly deliberated the issue of liquefied gas import but could not reach any consensus. The forum then decided to send concerns of the members to the relevant ministry to look into the matter to elicit its views and retake the matter in next meeting.

About the provision of natural gas to localities/villages falling within the 5-kilometre radius of gas production fields, the CCI decided that all expenditures involved would be borne by the distribution companies.

In the case of Balochistan, provision of gas to the nearest tehsil headquarters or district headquarters, as the case may be, would be ensured.

The meeting approved a proposal by the Ministry for Energy for an amendment to the ‘Petroleum Exploration and Production Policy, 2012’.

The CCI meeting also acceded to the request of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to grant a one-time relaxation for the award of one new exploration block to each Provincial Holding Companies without competitive bidding.

About the ‘Net Hydel Profits’ row between two provinces, the CCI was informed that the issue has been amicably resolved during a meeting of their reps with the prime minister.

The meeting agreed to the real-time monitoring of the electricity production, allocation to each Discos and duration of loadshedding by the provinces. It was decided that similar mechanism would also be made available for the gas sector.

The matter of the ‘National Water Policy’ was also taken up at the meeting and the participants reached a consensus that a committee comprising the planning commission, water and energy divisions and provincial representatives would scrutinise and analysis the proposed policy.

About establishment of the Fiscal Coordination Committee, the CCI decided that the existing committee constituted under NFC would be further mandated to ensure better coordination of the senior officials of finance divisions of the provinces and the federal government in matters relating to fiscal consolidation.

On ‘Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution and Workers Welfare Fund’ in post 18th amendment scenario, the meeting decided to form a sub-committee comprising Federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, seniors advisers to PM on law and revenue, provincial labour ministers, finance secretary and others to look into the matter.

After discussing the issue of export of surplus sugar, the meeting decided to recommend to the ECC to allow export of 1.5 million metric tonne sugar during fiscal 2017-18. The existing subsidy level on the exports would continue.