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Tuesday December 07, 2021

Ministers warned: Own govt decisions or resign, says PM Imran Khan

The PM said even after two and a half years, no reforms could be introduced in the state institutions and the system of governance could not be improved either

January 13, 2021

Ministers warned: Own govt decisions or resign, says PM Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said that "ministers should show some ownership towards the decisions of the government" and "if they disagree, they may resign from their posts".

The premier was speaking during a meeting of the federal cabinet, Geo News reported. According to sources, during the meeting, Adviser on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Ishrat Hussain briefed the members of the meeting about the situation of state institutions.

Imran Khan lamented that even after two and a half years, no reforms could be introduced in the state institutions and the system of governance could not be improved either. He said there is no room for error, and attention must be paid to resolving people’s problems. Sources added that the prime minister summoned a report on the performance of the Ministry of Law for judicial reforms.

During the meeting, many cabinet members also raised questions about bringing reforms to the system of governance in different institutions and asked about the accountability of those involved.

In response, the prime minister said that all the ministers will have to improve their performance. He also directed his ministers to prepare a brief yet comprehensive report on matters related to state institutions that can be presented before the public.

The prime minister directed the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) to submit a report, adding that "the AGP has been accused of Rs200 billion corruption ". As per sources, the prime minister directed Finance and Revenue Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and Science Minister Fawad Chaudhry to introduce a new digital system in the AGP’s office.

Imran Khan also told his ministers that "if they go against the policies of the PTI, they are free to resign from their posts," the sources said. "Ministers should show some ownership towards the decisions of the government," he said. "If they maintain their (opposing) approach, I will myself decide whether to keep them in the cabinet or not," he said.

Imran Khan also called for placing facts regarding the Broadsheet issue before the nation, as to how the past rulers tried to buy the firm. To this effect, an inter-ministerial panel has been formed. Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz said that the inter-ministerial committee has been formed in the light of recent statements on the Broadsheet scandal, which will make revelations in the coming days. He said the Broadsheet scandal started in 2000 and went into cold storage when the PPP and PML-N were given NRO. He said that the committee would not only disclose the assets of the country to the people, but also the work for which the company was paid and had started disclosures.

The minister while briefing media persons about the cabinet meeting said the Ministry of Human Rights was also directed to expedite the drafting of the law on enforced disappearances in the country.

Shibli said that the audit of institutions was done by the private sector, but a mechanism had been set up to bring harmony. He said the scope of the Auditor General has also been extended to autonomous bodies like PTCL and others.

The minister pointed out that there was talk of institutional reforms in the cabinet as the process of efficiency, transparency and accountability in the institutions was compromised, so it was decided that in the coming days the government will bring out all our reforms.

Shibli noted that a detailed press conference will be held on the reforms the government has made. He said that there were 445 institutions, which the government have brought to 341 -- some have been merged and some institutions have been abolished.

Referring to the cabinet meeting, the minister said that despite giving ministries to the provinces under the 18th Amendment, the number of federal government employees has increased instead of decreasing. He said that the cabinet also directed the Pension Commission to speed up its work as these are important things. “It is necessary to correct the flaws in the 18th Amendment,” he emphasised.

Shibli said that smuggling of petrol discourages standard petrol, adding that the smuggled petrol besides harming the environment and vehicles also causes a loss of about Rs180 billion to the national exchequer. The minister noted that operations in this regard have started from and all concerned agencies including the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Customs and Police have formulated a comprehensive strategy against 192 petrol pumps involved in smuggling and initiated action. The minister said that 192 petrol pumps have been sealed, the punishment is also severe, and they have been given one week to respond.

Shibli said that Asad Umar raised the case of Osama Satti's murder in Islamabad on which the prime minister took stern notice and the JIT was formed in this regard has completed its report and submitted it to the Home Secretary. He said that the Prime Minister has stressed that if the family members are not satisfied with this the JIT, then according to their satisfaction, there will be an inquiry under the supervision of anyone including the high court judge, and those responsible will be held accountable and punished.

Shibli noted that the prime minister directed the cabinet to formulate a policy on sugar and wheat in the next 15 days based on the experience gained in the previous years. He said that the government of Sindh had created a shortage of wheat by stopping its supply and if the price also went up, a way should be paved for taking legal steps to stop it.

Shibli said that in future no province should have the right to create supply chain and shortage in the whole country as it causes increase in prices, and there was talk of strict legislation in this regard as it is a federal matter, and legislation is the prerogative of the Centre.

To a question, he said that Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) had become a relic of the past, as it was a movement whose foundation was very hollow because people always come out for a movement against corruption, but it is a movement to save corruption.

The cabinet approved in principle legal amendments to make the Auditor General of Pakistan more empowered, autonomous and transparent. The cabinet approved conditions for appointment of Director General under Legal Aid and Justice Authority Act 2020. This authority will provide financial and legal assistance to the deserving and weaker sections to get justice.

The cabinet approved the status of FIA Commercial Bank Circle Lahore as a police station under the FIA Act, 1974.It will extend to Okara, where legal action against banking crimes will be possible. The cabinet approved election of members and appointment of administrator in the National Medical Council.

The special assistant for health informed the Cabinet that a law was being introduced across the country to end the reuse of syringes. The cabinet expressed deep concern over the disappearances and directed the enactment of laws to address these disappearances. The cabinet also approved the deployment of Pakistan Rangers to maintain law and order in the by-elections constituencies in Sindh.