Saturday September 18, 2021

Cabinet rejects hike in MPs’ salaries

Cabinet rejects hike in MPs’ salaries

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet Tuesday rejected a proposal to give 10 per cent ad hoc relief in the basic salaries of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman, National Assembly speaker and deputy speaker and members of the parliament.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said this during a media briefing about the decisions taken at the cabinet meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He explained that the decision was part of the austerity drive of the prime minister, being implemented since day one as a result of which the PM House made huge savings and the National Assembly saved Rs1.54 billion and returned the amount to the government.

On the proposed increase, he said that the cabinet opined that it was a violation of the principle of austerity, keeping in mind the present economic situation. The minister emphasised that the decision was meant to show the nation that the people in power corridors were setting an example for others to save the national wealth.

Moreover, the minister added, the cabinet also rejected an allowance traditionally given to members of the cabinet. Also, in a landmark development, the federal cabinet decided to introduce comprehensive reforms in the outdated criminal justice system in the country in line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision for provision of timely and inexpensive justice.

Fawad Ch said Law and Justice Minister Farogh Naseem gave the cabinet a detailed briefing on the proposed law, and added these reforms would completely change the criminal justice system in the country.

He said the reforms would fulfil Prime Minister Imran Khan's agenda of improvement in the criminal justice system to ensure timely justice. He explained the focus of reforms would be ending delay in trial and hurdles in registration of the First Information Report (FIR).

The minister noted that now the matter would be discussed in the Cabinet Committee on Law and Justice, and after that it would be implemented. The prime minister also expressed anger at delay in procurement of wheat despite his clear instructions for early procurement. In the meeting, Punjab province was issued directions for immediate release of wheat which, would help in gradual reduction of wheat and flour prices in the market. Punjab will issue the wheat release schedule soon.

The minister said the cabinet allowed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to hire services for making its data more secure, following a cyber attack on Aug 14 this year. Fawad said hackers attacked the website of FBR; however most of its data remained safe and an operational emergency was declared to secure its data.

He said the cabinet was informed that this year about a million cyber attacks were made on Pakistani websites which were thwarted by the National Telecom Company. It was informed that a comprehensive framework of cyber security was in place which was being further strengthened. He added The Guardian newspaper had also reported that India, along with an Israeli company, had tried to hack the data of Pakistan's important mobile phones, including the prime minister’s. However, he admitted that an investigation into hacking of PM’s phone was yet to start, though a committee had been formed for the purpose. He said technical members’ appointment to the committee was yet to be finalised.

Fawad said the Ministry of Science and Technology briefed the cabinet on process of electronic voting machines and overseas Pakistanis voting right. The minister said the Ministry of Information Technology would launch 5G technology in the country from next year in which multiple companies had already shown interest.

PM Imran Khan, he explained, directed the Pakistan Telecom Authority to ensure good telecommunication services in all parts of the country so that everyone could benefit from revolution in the sector. Fawad said the cabinet gave approval for the establishment of Quaid-e-Azam Foundation.

About the proposal of the tariff policy board, the cabinet approved reduction in additional Customs Duty on auto-parts from 7 to 2 per cent to promote indigenous production of vehicles. He said likewise, additional Customs Duty on heavy commercial vehicles had also been reduced. Moreover, he said that prices of 1000cc and below cars would fall after abolishment of additional duty on their spare-parts.

In addition, he said, appointment and transfer of the Bureau of Immigration and Overseas Employment Protector of Immigrants was approved. Fawad said the cabinet, keeping in view the situation due to coronavirus restrictions, decided to wave off one per cent penalty imposed on importers on imported goods, which were present in the warehouse and were not cleared in time. He added that the surcharge would be waived off, provided that it would be cleared by Sept 30.

He said the cabinet approved reorganisation of the Board of Directors of Diamer Bhasha Development Company (Pvt) Limited: a representative of the Ministry of Planning has been added to the Board of Directors instead of the representative of the Prime Minister's Office.

Fawad said the decision of the Cabinet Committee on Legislation regarding automation of the power of attorney system for overseas Pakistanis was ratified. The cabinet approved flisghts between Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan to PIA and Kyrgyz Airlines Avia. The cabinet approved the proposal of PSO and Pak LNG to reduce the timelines on procurement of LNG as per the rules of PPRA rules.