Wednesday October 20, 2021

Sindh cabinet approves Rs2bn economic package for the poor

As part of its pro-poor economic revival package, the Sindh government has decided to launch the Chief Minister Self-Employment Scheme to offer interest-free small loans to deserving people.

This decision was taken during the cabinet meeting held under the chairmanship of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah at the CM House on Thursday. The chief executive said that the Covid-19 situation has rendered a large number of people unemployed or under-employed.

“Now is the time to introduce a pro-poor economic package, under which interest-free small loans may be offered to people to start their small businesses or strengthen their current business activities,” he said, adding that he can spare Rs2 billion in the current financial year to begin with.

After thorough discussions and deliberations, the cabinet approved the proposal and named it the Chief Minister Self-Employment Scheme. They unanimously sought an increase in its budgetary allocation so that a large number of people could benefit from it.

Shah said that a mechanism for loan entitlement, disbursement method and recovery mode needs to be evolved. He formed a committee to work out the details. The body will be headed by Planning & Development (P&D) Board Chairman Mohammad Waseem, with the finance and law secretaries as its members.

The meeting was told that the NGO Akhuwat Islamic Microfinance is offering interest-free loans to the poor so that they can start their small businesses, and that their recovery rate is 100 per cent.

The NGO’s representative, who had been invited to the meeting, gave a detailed briefing to the cabinet. The next meeting of the advisory group will be held before Ramazan to discuss the plan further.

Billboard policy

Local Government Secretary Najam Shah told the cabinet that the billboard and hoarding policy for outdoor advertising has been framed in the light of the Supreme Court’s orders.

Under this policy, billboards will be built and installed according to the standard height, width and restrictions. The new policy covers the fee structure for outdoor advertising, place of advertisement, mode of payment and other similar aspects.

The advisory group approved the new policy, but a committee to be headed by LG Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah was formed to improve the policy further.

Allotment of land

The cabinet approved the proposal to allot 13 acres to Jamia Islamia in Deh Tore, Taluka Murad Memon, District Malir at a rate of Rs10 million per acre for amenity purposes. The price of the land has been fixed by the District Price Fixation Committee.

Homi Chambers

On the recommendation of the heritage committee of the provincial government, the cabinet approved the request of the owner of the Homi Katrak Chambers, situated on plot No. CL-9/22/7 at the junction of Abdullah Haroon Road and Hoshang Road in Karachi, for addition and alteration of the heritage building.

The compound of the Homi Katrak Chambers will remain the same after the heritage building has been revived, while inside the compound, a 27-storey building will be constructed.

Special court

The cabinet was told that the Sindh Cooperative Societies Act 2020 has been enforced. Under the act a new special court has to be established to hear the cases pertaining to cooperative societies. Such cases were earlier decided through arbitration.

The advisory group directed the cooperative department to approach the chief justice of the Sindh High Court for the establishment of the special courts for cooperative societies.

UP&SP Unit

Keeping in view the performance of the Directorate of Urban Policy & Strategic Planning (UP&SP) Unit, the cabinet agreed to declare it an attached department of the P&D Board with a budget of Rs143.618 million.

The directorate is responsible for providing technical support related to province-wide urban regional planning and development within short-, medium- and long-term frameworks by means of preparing policies, plans and studies.

Sino-Pak relations

The cabinet was told that Pakistan’s ambassador in China has informed the Sindh government that the provincial government of China’s Hubei province wishes to establish a sister-province relationship between Sindh and Hubei and a sister-city relationship between Karachi and Wuhan.

Wuhan’s administration has completed its internal procedure to name a prominent square on the riverbank of Yangtze as Pakistan-China Friendship Square. Karachi’s administration will reciprocate the friendly gesture by renaming a prominent public square or road.

The cabinet also approved the Sindh Workers Welfare Fund Rules 2021. Labour Secretary Rasheed Solangi gave a detailed presentation about the draft rules that have been framed after the passage of the Sindh Workers Welfare Fund Act 2014.

The advisory group also accorded their approval for the appointment of Zulfikar Ali as the new chief executive officer of the Sindh Modaraba Management Limited.