Friday April 19, 2024

Opposition must reply to NAB queries

By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir & Mehtab Haider
May 22, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday, the federal cabinet was of opinion that the opposition should respond to the NAB queries and stop playing hide and seek with the institution that was working in accordance with the law and Constitution.

Briefing the media about the federal cabinet’s decisions, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan said the NAB was an independent state institution working in accordance with the law and the Constitution.

She said the government was only a facilitator working to remove hurdles in the way of NAB.

“The opposition is in courts contesting all the cases filed by the NAB, and if it has any problem with regard to the conduct of NAB then it could approach the courts anytime,” she added.

She asked the opposition parties to cooperate with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) instead of hurling threats.

She made it clear that playing hide and seek with the NAB will not help the opposition as such tactics don’t work.

Her assertion has come as a rebuttal to PML-N’s Senior Vice President Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s press briefing earlier in the day, who accused the NAB of victimization, saying those who wanted to save their skin should join the government ranks. Dr. Awan said she was not a spokesperson for the anti-graft body and advised the NAB to clarify the allegations leveled against it by the opposition parties.

She defended the appointment of PTI leader Usman Dar as SAPM on youth affairs and declared him as the best choice.

Briefing the media about the federal cabinet’s decisions, she said the cabinet approved 'Kamyab Jawan Programme' to economically empower the youth. She said the government had fixed Rs100 billion for the programme in this year’s budget, which would be increased in the coming years.

Under the programme, a youth can get loan from Rs100,000 to Rs50,000,00 in two categories.

She said under the first category banks will provide loan up to Rs500,000 at six percent mark-up with lending equity of 10 percent of the amount applied.

Under the second category, an applicant can get loan up to Rs5 million at a mark-up of eight percent and equity ratio of 20 percent, she added.

Dr Awan said 25 percent of the loan will be granted to women to make youth self-employed to overcome inflation and joblessness.

She said Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training gave a comprehensive briefing to the cabinet on the new education policy.

She said the policy will be developed under the mandate of the federal government and necessary assistance and facilitation will be provided to provinces for its implementation. She said the cabinet also pondered upon the rupee depreciation and its impact on inflation. She said the cabinet also approved the decisions of last meeting of Economic Coordination Committee. Dr Awan said Prime Minister Imran Khan had reiterated his resolve to overcome the economic difficulties of the people through long-term policies.

She said the cabinet had also given approval for constituting the Local Government Board and appointment of the Vice Chancellor of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University (SBBU) Islamabad.

She said the prime minister had also directed parliamentarians to remain active in their respective constituencies to ensure provision of all commodities in the month of Ramazan.

She said Prime Minister Imran Khan had asked the treasury legislators and ministers to enhance their interaction with the masses and explain to them the causes of difficulties being faced by the country.

“The people should be assured that the government is working hard for a sustainable and enduring development with a reform agenda,” she said.

She said the government was preparing a medium term macroeconomic strategy and was going to unveil it probably on Saturday.

The government has not yet tabled Budget Strategy Paper (BSP) for 2019-20 before the federal cabinet so far but the new document on macroeconomic strategy is going to be made public by the top economic wizard of the country.

“Pakistan and the IMF have struck staff level agreement and now the government is going to unveil medium term macroeconomic framework incorporating strategy as well as some macroeconomic projections in it,” official sources confirmed to The News here on Tuesday.

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenues Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh will hold a news briefing to make this document public.

According to credible sources, the prime minister addressed the matter in detail during the federal cabinet meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) although it wasn’t part of the agenda and the cabinet members also took part in the informal discussion.

The ministers were confident that the government could handle any challenge to peace and security coming from any quarter.