ISLAMABAD - The special meeting of the federal cabinet Tuesday unanimously approved the third and last phase of devolution of ministries and divisions to the provinces. For the first time the federation has devolved its power to the provinces in order to make them autonomous, said Information Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan. Addressing a press conference after the federal cabinets special meeting chaired by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Firdous Ashiq Awan flanked by Chairman 18th Amendment Implementation Commission Raza Rabbani and its members Afrasiab Khattak and Syed Naveed Qamar, said the premier had declared in the meeting to celebrate the 1st July as Provincial Autonomy Day. Talking about the devolution process, Raza Rabani said seventeen ministries and divisions identified for the purpose have been devolved to the provinces. While, in the third and final phase, seven ministries including Women Development, Minorities, Environment, Health, Food and Agriculture, Sports and Labour and Manpower were being devolved. He said in all 37,429 people would be affected due to devolution. A total of 4,253 employees of 10 ministries were transferred to the provincial governments whereas the remaining 21,717 were adjusted in ministries/divisions not being devolved and not a single employee had been laid off, he maintained. To a question regarding ministers future after devolution of the ministries, information minister said the ministers whose ministries have been devolved in the third phase would remain working as ministers, however, their portfolios would be changed. The devolution process was initiated in pursuance of the 18th Amendment whereby concurrent list had been abolished. In this regard, Implementation Commission set up under the 18th Amendment held 66 meetings. Firdous said it was the vision of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to abolish the concurrent list of the Constitution and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto struggled for it. To a question about parting ways of MQM with the government, Raza Rabani requested the media to be specific to the commission related questions. Adding her share, Information Minister said briefing was related to the cabinet meeting so to the point questions should be asked. Afrasiab Khattak said that now if the provinces would not show progress then it would be considered their incompetence. Rabbani said the Cabinet also approved some draft laws necessitated due to devolution, which were Industrial Relations Act 2011; National Commission for Women Bill 2011; Environment Protection Law 1997; establishment of an Independent Drug Regulatory Authority and amendments in the Rules of Business of the Federal Government. He told the media that in the first phase, ministries of Special Initiatives, Zakat and Ushr, Population Welfare, Youth Affairs and Local Government and Rural Development were devolved in December 2010. While, ministries of Education, Social Welfare and Special Education, Culture, Tourism and Livestock and Dairy Development were devolved to the provinces in second phase in April 2011. Earlier, Prime Minister in the cabinet meeting termed the approval of recommendations of the Implementation Commission on 18th Amendment as an unprecedented and historic step to strengthen democracy. He congratulated the Cabinet, the Implementation Commission, political leadership of the country and the people of Pakistan for the implementation of the 18th and 19th Constitutional Amendments in true spirit. He also complimented all the political parties and stakeholders for their inputs to complete the devolution process. Gilani paid tributes to President Zardari for transferring his powers to the Parliament which was done through a smooth transition. It was his commitment, he said, to restore the Constitution as well as his vision for the future of the country. All the political parties, he mentioned, had expressed resolve to restore the Constitution and strengthen the democratic institutions. It is the privilege of the present government, he said, to have accomplished the task of restoring the 1973 Constitution which was also given by the Pakistan Peoples Party. He praised the contributions and struggle of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto for the restoration of democracy and the 1973 Constitution. The Premier said that the provincial autonomy was ensured in the 1973 Constitution which was to be done within ten years, however, this process was disrupted and instead certain amendments were made to delay the process. The completion of devolution process, he added, had removed the feelings of deprivation among smaller provinces since now they have achieved the provincial autonomy. The devolution and 7th NFC Award have given great responsibility to the provinces to work for the welfare of the people. It has not only given provinces more power, he said, but more resources and the provincial governments can now create miracles to bring about development and prosperity for the people. I must congratulate the people of Pakistan and also the members of the Implementation Commission as well as Senator Mian Raza Rabbani who worked selflessly to accomplish this very difficult task in an efficient and smooth manner with the consensus of all concerned, particularly the provincial governments, he added. He quoted Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah who had said If we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor. Thus, we should join hands to discharge this responsibility successfully as desired by the Founder of the Nation, Gilani concluded.