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‘Less money for provinces’

Top Story

October 19, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Thursday decided to allocate three percent share of the National Finance Commission Award (NFCA) to erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) by reducing the share of provinces.

The cabinet took a number of decisions in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) here. It was decided to establish a high-echelon committee on transformation of Karachi. For this purpose, the Karachi Infrastructure Development Company Limited (KIDCL) will be revamped to make it more effective in executing projects.

The Sindh government will also be taken along in the endeavour. A task force under the Sindh governor has been constituted. Briefing newsmen after the cabinet meeting, Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, who was also accompanied by Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, said the Fata Secretariat will be abolished and all administrative matters of the area will be overseen by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Secretariat. He said the prime minister had directed that the process of NFC Award should be speeded up. He said the cabinet had also decided to devise a new policy on arms licenses.

Fawad said since the issuance of arm licenses was a provincial subject after the passage of the 18th Amendment, therefore, the federal government will withdraw its appeal on this count from the Supreme Court.

He said development of Balochistan was also the top priority of the government. Fawad said the cabinet had decided to reduce the number of foreign visits of federal ministers by 33.3 percent.

He said apart from foreign minister, no minister will have more than three foreign visits a year. The minister said the prime minister had taken notice of the problems being faced by the sugarcane farmers and it was decided to start the crushing season from the 15th ofnext month in order to save them from losses.

He said the provincial governments had been issued directions in this regard and the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief ministers will meet with the prime minister soon to brief him about the administrative steps on this issue.

The minister said the cabinet had decided to merge the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (Erra) into the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), as the former was created for a specific purpose.

He said the employees of Erra working in provincial offices will be accommodated in provincial offices of NDMA, while the employees working in the federal office will join the NDMA office in Islamabad.

Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said the cabinet had decided to renegotiate agreements of two Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals installed by the PML-N government with the parties concerned due to high return on equity.

He said return on equity in the agreement signed with Engro Company was 44 percent, which was double the market rate, implying some underhand deal. He said the return rate in the other terminal was 22 percent.

Ghulam Sarwar Khan said the LNG terminal agreements and LNG import deal with Qatar had brought the economy under stress. Responding to a question about the IMF programme, Fawad said the government required $12 billion to bring the economy out of crises. He said talks were underway with friendly countries and the IMF for the purpose. Fawad said the government was enforcing a transparent system, which will attract huge investment.

To a question about the recent by-elections, Sarwar Khan said the elections were held in the most transparent manner. He said the previous governments had always influenced by-elections.

Fawad said Karachi had reposed enormous confidence in the PTI and the city had for the first time come out of linguistic politics. He said the city of Quaid will get full-fledged representation in the Federation and its development will be the top priority of the federal government.

The federal government has given 12 important slots to the personalities belonging to Karachi. Fawad said the PML-N government had played with the country’s destiny, as mind-boggling facts had surfaced about the LNG terminal and the government had decided to go for complete audit of all terminals. “The people who have ruined the country should now sit at home instead of giving sermons,” Fawad said.

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