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September 6, 2018

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20pc reward for helping recover looted money

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet has decided to bring about a legislation through presidential ordinance providing for a 20 percent reward for those helping to recover the looted money stashed abroad.

The cabinet, which met in Islamabad Wednesday with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair, also approved 46 percent increase in gas price. It took several decisions for recovery of ill-gotten money and the wealth stashed abroad illegally.

A whistle blower’s law is being introduced immediately through an ordinance envisaging reward worth 20 percent for those who would help recover looted money. The names of the informers would be kept confidential.

Briefing the newsmen, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar said another ordinance on mutual legal assistance is being issued, which would help remove bottlenecks in the way of seeking information from foreign countries on illegal wealth.

The Special Assistant said the Prime Minister has directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to dispatch a high-powered delegation to Switzerland to expedite ratification of the treaty on exchange of information on bank accounts.

He said the treaty was signed in 2013 but was not ratified. Shahzad Akbar said the government would also hire firms that would detect and help recover illegal money and in the case of recovery, the firm would get an agreed share of the recovered amount. He said the Prime Minister would get reports on implementation of these measures on fortnightly basis.

Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry said eighty billion rupees have been saved and returned back to Finance Ministry due to the stopping of discretionary funds by Prime Minister. He said schemes like Prime Minister's Laptop have been abolished and the money returned to the Finance Ministry.

The cabinet took notice of a media report about premature commissioning of Tarbela Extension-4 Project causing a loss of 25 billion rupees to the national exchequer. A task force has been constituted on education led by Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood.

The Minister said that the task force will include prominent educationalists, representatives of Madaris and skill development departments. First objective is to bring 250 million out-of-school children to education network, he said.

A uniform school education and certification system would be enforced throughout the country. It was decided, said the minister, that provinces will be consulted regarding increasing fee by the private schools.

In addition, it was decided that funds will be spent on establishing centres for street children and women. The cabinet gave instructions to provide easy access in all buildings for disabled people, both at federal and provincial levels.

Fawad Chaudhry said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been directed to improve its attitude with overseas Pakistanis. Strict notice will be taken if complaints are received against the attitude of staff deputed at foreign missions and embassies worldwide, he said.

The Minister said the cabinet directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to collect data of over 10,000 Pakistanis incarcerated in various countries. Of these, 3,000 are in Iran mostly on drug related offences. As Iran has amended its anti-drug law in recent days, it is hoped a large number of Pakistanis will get relief.

The Information Minister said that the state was bound to protect minorities. He made the remarks in context of the controversy following the inclusion of economist Atif Mian into the government’s Economic Advisory Council. “Protecting minorities is an integral part of Islam. Pakistan is an Islamic state. We must ensure rights of all minorities are secured,” the minister said. Fawad said the Prime Minister had decided against using discretionary funds at the meeting. He added, “As a result, around Rs80 billion will be injected into development projects.”

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