Federal cabinet meeting also approves three weeks’ extension for Inquiry Commission probe into sugar price hike
Pakistan’s federal cabinet on Tuesday banned the export of all edible items during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with Prime Minister Imran Khan saying the decision would be reviewed in two weeks.
A press release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said the cabinet had also approved a request by an Inquiry Commission probing last year’s sugar price to extend by three weeks the time required to submit its report.
Also on Tuesday, the federal cabinet approved a Shuhadaa Package for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Under this assistance program, any healthcare worker in Islamabad, Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan who dies while performing duties related to COVID-19 shall be entitled to the same benefits as government servants who perish in incidents of terror.
During the cabinet meeting, the prime minister said the government planned to offer state-owned land in major cities to overseas Pakistanis to generate funds. It was unclear if this meant the property would be sold off wholesale to overseas Pakistanis—and not locals—or be leased to them.
Khan also directed all ministries to expedite the establishment of think tanks comprising experts and professionals to bring about qualitative improvement in their overall performance and output.
During the meeting, the cabinet ratified the decisions of the Economic Coordination Committee, including a Rs. 75 billion relief package for daily wagers. It also ratified the recommendations of the Cabinet Committee on Legislative Cases and was briefed by Adviser to the P.M. on Finance Abdul Hafiz Shaikh on progress in regulating the activities of the Competition Commission of Pakistan. The cabinet also approved the appointment of Shaista Bano Gillani as acting chairperson of the CPP.
The cabinet approved, in principle, the Netting of Financial Contracts Bill 2020, which seeks to remove uncertainties in enforcing foreclosure in case of a termination event, bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings; limiting the power of liquidators to prevent any cherry-picking of qualified financial contracts/transactions falling under the ambit of netting provisions; and allowing financial collateral arrangements under such netting rights. Once enforced, qualified financial contracts would always be settled on the basis of “netting” in the presence of the arrangement.
The cabinet also approved a proposal to notify all companies supplying electricity or gas through distribution or transmission lines to be made members of a Credit Bureau and to furnish information in accordance with the Credit Bureau Act 2015
The cabinet approved the restructuring of the board of directors of the Pak-Arab Refinery Limited (PARCO), approving Aftab Hussain (Sindh); Abdul Hadi Shah (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa); and Bushra Naz Malik (Punjab) as members of its board.
It also approved the nomination of a director against casual vacancies of the board of directors of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd., Pakistan Petroleum Limited, Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation, and the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority.
The cabinet also approved the modalities for the export of chloroquine by importers possessing raw material.
Aid for Journalists
Approving the allocation of a federal government grant-in-aid for journalists and journalistic bodies, especially press clubs, the cabinet tasked Information Minister Shibli Faraz and Special Assistant to the P.M. on Information Asim Saleem Bajwa to finalize the standard operating procedures for disbursement of the grant to deserving journalists and journalistic bodies.
Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza, meanwhile, briefed the cabinet on the latest situation of COVID-19.