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KP allows use of copters by ministers, officials

By Riaz Khan Daudzai
May 10, 2019

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet on Thursday allowed the use of official helicopters by the ministers and government officials for official use at public expense and approved the 10-year development plan for the merged districts.

The chief minister, during the meeting, expressed reservations over the stubborn attitude of the private schools’ owners and stopped these schools from receiving tuition fees during the summer vacations.

Shaukat Yousafzai, provincial information minister and the spokesperson for the provincial government, while briefing media persons at the Cabinet Room of the Civil Secretariat on the cabinet meeting decisions, said it approved amendments to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ministers Salaries, Allowances and Privileges Act, 1975 (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Act No. IV) to allow the use of helicopters by cabinet members and officials with the approval of the chief minister. He said the cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, remained a marathon one that started at 10:30 am and continued through 3:00 pm.

He said that there was an issue in using official choppers because no standard operating procedures (SOPs) existed for the purpose. “Now the relevant law has been changed to overcome the anomaly,” he said. The amendments would allow the use of the official helicopters by the ministers, advisors, special assistants and the officials, he said and added that it would also allow the provincial government to hire helicopters from the open market.

The amendment says: 1) The chief minister may use an aircraft or helicopter of government at government expenses for official use. 2) The chief minister may hire an aircraft or helicopter from the open market or requisition it from Pakistan Air Force or federal government for official use at the cost of government, in accordance with the rules made in this behalf by the Pakistan Air Force or federal government as the case may be. 3) The chief minister may allow a minister or public servant to use an aircraft or helicopter of government for official use at government expense.

The minister said the provincial government acquired two helicopters in 2008 for use during emergencies and calamities for relief work and other related activities.

However, during an enquiry by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), it was observed that there existed no SOPs for the use of the official choppers.

The committee headed by the secretary administration prepared the SOPs for the purpose and were approved by the cabinet, he added. To a question, he said both the helicopters were grounded for service and repair. One of the copters has been sent to Russia for repair, while the other one is locally repaired, the minister added.

Shaukat Yousafzai said the cabinet also approved the concept paper for the 10-year development in the merged districts, which would be sent to the departments with the direction that they should include development projects in the same within one month.

He said that under the merger plan, 3 percent of the divisible pool would have to be allocated for the merged districts in which the share of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa comes to Rs10.81 billion, Punjab Rs38 billion, while Centre would contribute Rs54 billion for the plan.

The cabinet also approved the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) Limited to build Mass Transit Circular Rail project connecting Peshawar, Nowshera, Mardan and Charsadda, he added. The “Greater Peshawar Region Mass Transit Circular Rail Project” would jointly be carried out by CRCC and Pakistan Railway Advisory Consultancy Service (PRACS) that would be completed in 18 months. The cabinet, the minister said, also approved the appointment of Maawin Qazi (assistant judges) as per para 6 of the Shari Nizam-e-Adl (Amend) Regulation 2016 to assist the judges on disputes and other cases in accordance with Quranic injunctions and Sharia rules.

About 15 Qazis would be appointed in Swat, 16 in Buner, 12 each in Shangla and Malakand, 21 in Lower Dir and 14 each in Upper Dir and Chitral districts.

The cabinet in light of directives of chief justice Peshawar High Court also approved the appointment of two judges as member labour appellate tribunal, the minister informed. The cabinet also approved Mines Safety Rules to ensure safety of mine workers who would be registered with Employees Old Age Benefit Institution (EOBI).

According to the cabinet decision, the heirs would get compensation Rs500,000 for loss of life of a mine worker, Shaukat Yousafzai maintained.

The cabinet approved the amendment in National Disaster Management Act, allowing Relief Department to declare a calamity-hit area in case of any disaster. It also approved regularisation of services of 250 government employees including 197 of the Health Department.

He said the chief minister directed the Education Department that no private school would collect summer vacations fees from parents and the Private School Regulatory Authority (PSRA) would take stern action against the schools violating the directives.

The chief minister also expressed reservations over the removal of Khatm-e-Nabuwat chapter from the book of Class-IV and the matter should be probed and those responsible would be dismissed from service. To a question, the minister did not rule out the postponement of by-elections scheduled to be held in July in the merged districts in case the parliament passed the bill seeking an increase in the numbers of the provincial seats in these district from 16 to 24.