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National

December 12, 2016

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CCI meeting to approve national forest policy, population census

ISLAMABAD: The thirtieth meeting of Council of Common Interest (CCI) convened by the prime minister on December 15 will among other things approve the national forest policy 2016. It is also expected to create consensus on holding countrywide population and housing census.

The meeting long overdue is being held after a lapse of 9 months has a heavy agenda consisted of 7-point agenda to dispose of. The CCI last met on March 25 this year. The national forest policy will replace the 2015 policy with certain changes carried out with the consent of the four provinces and its focus would be on forest conservation as well as enhancement of the area covered under new afforestation.

First item on the agenda includes status review of important decisions taken by the last two meetings on February 29 and March 25 (i) corruption charges in Kachchi canal project (ii) matters pertaining to Higher Education and other similar issues in post-eighteenth amendment scenario, (iii) formulation of national flood protection plan IV (2016-25, (iv) import of Liquefied National Gas and (v), liquefied petroleum gas production and distribution.

The CCI will be deliberating the all-important Fata reforms on which there is a wide spreading division among the stakeholders whereas government’s committee has proposed to merge the tribal agencies into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, voices are also being raised against the move. The CCI would find out a middle path acceptable to all stakeholders including the majority of tribal population.

Second item on which the council will debate and give its approval is Sindh population and housing census which the Sindh government and opposition parties have been demanding since long. The Supreme Court has also ordered the federal government to carry out long delayed countrywide population and houses census latest by March next year and the council while discussing Sindh census as raised by the Sindh government would also create consensus of the four provinces on implementing the apex court’s order.

Another most contentious issue on agenda would be allocation of national security fund out of divisible pool, the matter already discussed in last month’s NFC award meeting where federal government demanded an increase of 3 percent share in divisible pool to meet security expenses while the provinces also advanced their respective demands of enhancement in their divisible pool share. The matter was left for CCI’s arbitration. The CCI will also discuss transfer of regulatory authorities under cabinet division respective ministries (in aftermath of eighteenth amendment). Last item on the agenda of CCI is “Flare Gas (FG) utilisation guidelines 2016 and revision of Tight Gas exploration and production policy 20

Meanwhile, it seems the successive governments have as a routine ignored the important role of the Council of Common Interests which is reflected by the fact that only 29 meetings of the council have so far been held since its inception in 1975 instead of 164 in 41 years.

This period includes the martial law of Gen. Ziaul Haq and the parliamentary rule under him besides General Musharraf’s take over and emergency rule.

Under the rules of the council it was required to meet after every 90 days to discuss the federal as well as provincial matters and contentious issues that arise between federation and the provinces from time to time.

During PPP’s tenure in government 2008-2013 a total of 11 meetings were held as against at least 20 and in the present PML-N rule 8 meetings have so far held from July 2013 to March 25, 2016 against required 14.

 

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