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August 4, 2019

Sindh cabinet okays school education roadmap

Karachi

August 4, 2019

The Sindh cabinet meeting on Saturday which lasted here for record over eight-and-a-half hours took important decisions, including approval of the Thar coal mining expansion, extension of over 100-year property lease located in the old areas of Karachi, approval of a school education roadmap, and extension of the deadline for the computerisation of arms licences to December 31, 2019, in the province.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah presided over the meeting, which was conducted by the chief secretary and attended by all the provincial ministers, advisers and relevant provincial government officers. Some 38 items were placed on the agenda of the meeting and most of them were discussed and decided, except a few which were deferred because the labour minister was on medical leave.

School education plan

Minister for Education Syed Sardar Shah said that there are 49,103 government-run schools, of them 44,317 are primary, 2,693 elementary, 1,776 high schools and 317 higher secondary schools.

He admitted that there were 11,308 schools or 20 percent schools had all facilities such as toilets, boundary walls, electricity, and drinking water.

He added that 11 percent of schools or 5,922 have no facility, while 37,705 or 69 percent schools are missing facilities.

He also said that there were 7,611 shelter-less schools, 10,516 single-room schools, and 18,507 two-room schools. He added that there 18,660 such schools which were being run by a single teacher and 12,136 schools had no teacher and 11,441 schools had no enrolment – which means they were non-viable. Around 4.2 million children were out of school.

Secretary Education Qazi Shahid Parvez said that 90 percent of teachers of government schools were of arts subjects, and 10 percent are science teachers. He said that efforts were being made to recruit science, mathematics and English language teachers. The cabinet was told that 40,000 teachers had been imparted training but still they had not shown any visible change in their teaching methods. The curriculum books’ content was too old and needed to be changed on a war footing.

Expansion of coal mining

The energy department presented the item of expansion of coal mining as Phase-II of the project in Tharparkar. In the first phase, 3.8 MTPA coal was being produced and it was enough to produce 660 MW of electricity in Thar.

Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh said that the provincial government being a major shareholder with 54.7 percent shares in the project made the equity of $110.4 million. The SECMC (Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company) has embarked upon a plan to launch phase-II of the project where mining capacity would be doubled to 7.6 MTPA. The cost of Phase-II has been estimated at $215.9 million, where the equity component is $67 million.

The SECMC has approached the government to undertake the same shares ratio of 54.7 percent so that the project could be launched. The cabinet was also told that the cost of the production of the coal and electricity would come down with the launch of the Phase-II mining project under which two 330 coal-fired power plants would be established.

The chief minister said that the establishment of the coal-fired power plant and the mining project were historic achievements of the provincial government; therefore the cabinet had accorded approval to launching of Phase-II for which the SECMC was allowed to sign financial close which was waiting for approval of the cabinet.

There are 1,168 employees working in Thar coal mining, of them 905 are Pakistanis, including 674 Tharis.

Free electricity

The cabinet also approved passing on the power generation from Thar coal to the residents of the Islamkot Taluka.

The minister for energy said that some 2,700 families in Islamkot were using 100 units of electricity; therefore, as per directives of the PPP chairman they would be the major beneficiaries of using free of cost electricity. This benefit would be enjoyed by a total of 4,500 households of Thar. Those who are consuming more than 100 units would have to pay the bill of

remaining units because only 100 units are free.

The CM directed the energy minister to conduct another survey of the residents of Islamkot who had no power connection. “I would give free of cost power connections to those who are in close reach and solar panels to those who are out of the grid reach,” he decided.

Renewal of leases

The cabinet was told that the old leases granted by the defunct collector of Karachi during the 18thcentury for building purposes in the old city of Karachi had expired in 1962 and onward. The renewal of the leases was made under the Bombay Revenue Code 1879 at a certain rate.

These buildings are located at 23 different locations of the city where thousands of people are settled. The CM said that every year their leases were being renewed which was unnecessary botheration for the owners; therefore, he constituted a committee under Minister Revenue Makhdoom Mahboob with Minister for Local Government Saeed Ghani, Adviser on Law Murtaza Wahab and the advocate general of Sindh as members to review the law and propose new clauses so that the leases could be renewed for a certain period.

Arms licences

Home Secretary Kazi Kabir told the cabinet that there were 1,055,476 arms licences manually issued in the province.

Despite extending dates for the computerization for five times, only 535,843 licensees have approached and got their licences computerised.

At this, the chief minister said that for the sixth time the date for the computerisation of the licences may be extended upto December 31, 2019, after that licences not computerised would be declared as illegal and such arms confiscated. The cabinet approved the proposal.

Reforms

Disclosing his reform agenda, the education minister said that he had taken two actions, holding civil society dialogue at Hyderabad and Karachi and school profiling.

He said that one- or two-room primary schools located in close vicinity were being merged. His other reforms include decentralisation of primary school management through clustering with one hub school having a grade BS-17 headmaster, eligible primary schools to be upgraded to elementary schools and middle schools to be clubbed with adjacent primary schools to make one elementary school.

The CM directed the education department to establish 300 model schools having the facility of early childhood classes, transportation facility for girl students and female teachers. The cabinet decided to run these schools through the outsourcing model.

The chief minister said that he had released Rs8 billion for furniture, therefore local vendors must be engaged, otherwise these funds would remain unutilised. He also ordered provision of budget for teaching material, sports and co-curriculum activities.

Exams

The cabinet decided to conduct examination in open areas where CCTV cameras would be installed to monitor activities of candidates. The assessment of the copies would also be done under one roof and under surveillance cameras.

MVR Smart Card

Minister Excise & Taxation Mukesh Chawla presented an item under which he proposed an amendment in the Sindh Motor Vehicle Rules 1969 for a security featured MVR (motor vehicles registration) smart card.

At present, the Excise & Taxation Department issues an MVR registration book against a fee of Rs1,000 and a renewal fee of Rs2,000. Now these registration books would be replaced with smart cards in which all security features have been incorporated. The fee of the card would be Rs750.

Rule of law roadmap

In order to strengthen the institutions concerned with the Criminal Justice System (CJS) in the province, the Rule of Law Roadmap was developed through a consultative process.

The CM said that the objective of the roadmap was to ensure more effective oversight through strengthened internal and external accountability of CJS institutions.

He added that it includes improvement in investigation and prosecution service, to reduce judicial caseloads by ensuring faster case disposal courts, to reduce pre- and post-trial incarceration, to ensure closer coordination and integration of sectoral functions, to strengthen institutional capacities for more effective response to terrorism, to ensure more citizens are able to avail their fundamental rights as enshrined in the constitution and to increase opportunities for citizens to meaningfully influence the policies.

Former IGP Niaz Siddiqui briefed the cabinet about the features of the roadmap. The CM constituted a committee under the home secretary to review all the proposed amendment in the law wherever necessary so that it could be implemented in letter and spirit. A separate unit of the roadmap has also been approved to be set up in the home department.

Ombudsman

The cabinet decided that in Punjab and KP the provincial ombudsman was being appointed by the CM, but in Sindh the governor had the powers to appoint ombudsman. Therefore, the cabinet approved an amendment in The Establishment of the Office of Ombudsman for The province of Sindh Act, 1991 (Act No.1 of 1992) by replacing the word

governor with the chief minister.

Withdrawal of levy

The Information adviser, Murtaza Wahab, told the cabinet that the newspaper industry was passing through a very critical phase. Therefore, he proposed to withdraw the Sindh Sales Tax on certain advertisements published in newspapers and periodicals. The cabinet approved withdrawal of three percent Sindh Sales Tax levied on advertisements being published in newspapers.

Amenity plot

The cabinet approved conversion of an amenity plot at Surjani Town for the establishment of a depot for Green Line BRTS. The title of the plot would be changed and a notification for the purpose would be issued by the local government department.

NGOs registration

The cabinet was told that there were 10,592 NGOs/NPOs (not-for-profit organisations) registered by the social welfare department.

Despite issuing public notices and warnings, only 7,414 NGOs/NPOs have responded and 4,693 have ignored

the government notice. Therefore, the cabinet approved cancellation of their registration.

The cabinet also directed the industries department to work out details of the NGOs/NPOs it had registered so that inactive bodies’ registration could be cancelled.

Withdrawal of powers

The fisheries & livestock department said that it had given powers to the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) to control illegal fishing in territorial waters for certain reasons.

The USA’s government has imposed the condition of installation of Turtle Excluded Devices (TEDs) on the fishing boats/trawlers to allow exports of fishing and its products to America unhindered.

The deep sea trawlers licensed by the federal government engaged in fishing on industrial scale often intrude into territorial waters of Sindh, within 12 nautical miles of coastal belt, for illegal fishing that is extremely detrimental to the interests of the local fishermen in Sindh.

The Sindh government gave powers to the inspector of fisheries but even then required results could not be achieved.

The cabinet approved withdrawal of powers of the inspector of fisheries to the PMSA and directed the fisheries department to perform the controlling duty on its own. The cabinet approved the resignation of the prosecutor general of Sindh and appointed advocate Fayaz Shah as new prosecutor general.

It also discussed and approved a draft of the Sindh Financial Rules, 2019 (Volume-I & II).

Under these rules, pensions would be transferred online and ghost pensioners would be got rid of. The rules also make the entire system of transfer of funds and utilisation transparent through e-services.

The cabinet condemned Indian atrocities in the held-Kashmir.

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