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December 10, 2019

Sindh cabinet okays draft law for revival of student unions

Karachi

December 10, 2019

The Sindh cabinet has approved a draft act to revive student unions in the province. The decision was taken on Monday when the cabinet met with Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in chair. Other major decisions taken by the cabinet were fixing the sugar cane price and issuing a directive to the advocate general to approach the Supreme Court for the payment of amount recovered from a builder.

The meeting was attended by Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, provincial ministers, advisers and other officers.

Student unions

The law department presented a summary saying that the CM had desired a regulatory framework for student unions in the educational institutions of the province consisting of bona fide students. For the purpose, a law was to be enacted in the subject matter to regulate the student unions.

Adviser to the CM on Law Murtaza Wahab presented a draft bill for the proposed law, titled Sindh Students Union Bill 2019.

The draft law defined an educational institution as an educational and training institution including a university, its constituent and affiliated institutions, and a college whether in public or private sector.

According to the draft law, there shall be a student union in every educational institution consisting of bona fide students. The union shall consist of seven to 11 members elected by the students of the particular educational institution. The educational institution shall every year conduct the elections for the student unions.

The functions of the student unions shall include work for maintaining social and academic welfare of the students, ensure the rights and interests of all students and organise such social, cultural, intellectual or other extra-curricular events which help form a student’s personality and make them a responsible citizen. The unions shall also work for strengthening relations between students and educational institutions, assisting the institution in maintaining discipline and ensuring the respect of teachers as well as other staff of the institution.

The draft law read that the students shall not indulge in any prejudicial activity in any manner. The bill also stated that the students shall not indulge in political activities. To this, members of the cabinet said the college students were of 18 years old and they had the right to vote.

The CM proposed to approve the draft law and table it in the provincial assembly where it would be sent it to the standing committee on law for further deliberations.

He also directed the law adviser to involve civil society, educationists and political scientists for their suggestions so that an ideal law could be enacted in this regard to undo the residuals of martial law from the educational institutions and allow the students to hold healthy activities.

The cabinet approved the bill after the discussion.

Sugar cane price

The agriculture department requested the cabinet to fix the sugar cane price for the year 2019-20. Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahu said the sugar price in the market had increased from Rs60 per kilogramme (kg) as the sugar cane price had gone up.

The CM said the minimum price of sugar cane must be reasonable enough to enable the growers to get back their investment with a reasonable profit, or else growers would stop cultivating the crop. After thorough deliberations, the cabinet fixed the minimum price of sugar cane at Rs192 per 40kg for the crop season 2019-20.

The cabinet also approved quality premium at the rate of Rs0.50 (fifty paisa) for 40 kg to be paid by sugar mills to cane growers at the end of the crushing season.

The crushing season for the year 2019-20 has started from November 30, 2019. The agriculture department informed the cabinet that the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) had approached the federal government for allowing them to export surplus sugar stocks and demanded the grant of cash freight support of Rs20 per kg due to low prices in the international market, after which the federal government allowed the export of four million tons of sugar.

The cabinet was told that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) had allocated a quota of 1.7 million tons and cash freight support of Rs10.7 per kg on the export of sugar to be equally shared by the federal and provincial governments.

The meeting was reminded that the proposal had been approved and now the Sindh government had to pay Rs3.393 billion as its share for payment to the SBP against the claim of cash freight support.

The cabinet approved the release of funds subject to clearance by the National Accountability Bureau, which has initiated an inquiry into the matter.

Land payment

The cabinet also took up the issue of the payments deposited by a builder in the Supreme Court of Pakistan against land of over 16,000 acres. It was said that the builder had agreed to pay Rs460 billion for the land of over 16,000 acres in Karachi.

As the cabinet was informed that the builder must have deposited around Rs35 billion in the Supreme Court, it directed the Sindh advocate general to file an application in the Supreme Court for the release of the amount collected so far so that it could be utilised for water sector projects.

Draft prison rules

The home department presented draft rules for the Sindh Prison & Correction Services Act 2019. Under the proposed rules, it is necessary to confine all the prisoners in a safe and secure custody whilst ensuring their fundamental rights as enshrined in the constitution.

The draft rules call for assisting the welfare and rehabilitation of prisoners and their reintegration into the society as law abiding citizens through reformation programmes. All sentenced prisoners must participate in reformation process.

The draft rules also allow early release of elderly prisoners who have completed half duration of substantial imprisonment. According to the proposed rules, 65-year-old male and 60-year-old female inmates would be able to walk free before the end of their sentence duration.

Art university

The university and boards department informed the cabinet that the Centre of Excellence of Art & Design and Heritage, Jamshoro, was working under the Mehran University and it needed to be upgraded as a university. The centre has its own building and necessary staff, therefore, it may be created as Shaheed Allah Buksh Soomro University of Art, Design and heritage Jamshoro Act, 2019, it was proposed. The cabinet approved the proposal and referred the matter to the assembly.

Thar Coal

The energy department requested the cabinet to approve the exemption of collection of Workers Welfare Fund (WWF) and Workers Profit Participation Fund (WPPF) from the Thar coal and power projects as Thar had been declared a special economic zone.

Labour Minister Saeed Ghani opposed the proposal, saying that the funds meant for workers and labourers could not be exempted. The CM and other cabinet members, however, did not completely agree with Ghani.

The CM constituted a committee comprising Ghani, Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh and Adviser on Law Murtaza Wahab to resolve the matter and bring up the issue in the next cabinet.

Forest land for gas line

Forest Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah presented two different items. One of them was about the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) requesting 15 acres of reserve forest land to carry out a drilling activity in order to explore oil and gas in Larkana for a period of 15 years.

He also forwarded another request of the SSGC to allow it to lay a gas pipeline from the Ayesha Gas Field to MV Golarchi, eight-kilometre forest land. The CM directed the forest secretary to quote the law under which the approval was being sought.

As the law he quoted was not relevant, the CM directed the forest department to explore the relevant law under which forest land could be given for commercial purposes. He asked the department to bring up the matter in the next cabinet meeting.