LAHORE, May 7: The caretaker Punjab cabinet on Tuesday gave final approval to the security plan and other arrangements for holding the general elections in the province.

The cabinet which met under Caretaker Chief Minister Najam Sethi also approved reduction in the entertainment tax and tax exemption for circus.

It approved up-gradation of the Fatima Jinnah Medical College to a university and a short-term plan for improving Wasa efficiency.

It reviewed Punjab Freedom of Information Act 2013, Noor International University Lahore Act 2013, Punjab Senior Citizen Welfare Ordinance 2013 and measures for recovery of General Sales Tax (GST) from restaurants.

Mr Sethi said arrangements had been finalised for holding transparent and peaceful general elections, besides security measures for enabling voters to exercise their right of franchise.

He said effective security arrangements would be made at every polling station so as to ensure law and order. Control rooms had been set up at the offices of all divisional commissioners and DCOs, he added.

Mr Sethi ordered provision of maximum facilities to the local and foreign media for the coverage of elections at divisional and district levels.

He said police had been assigned duties to ensure safe transportation of election staff, ballot papers and other election material to the polling stations on the elections day. There was a complete ban on carrying mobile phones by voters into the polling stations, and this should strictly be enforced, he said.

He said no-one would be allowed to disrupt the electoral process.

The chief minister ordered strict implementation of election code of conduct, and action against violators without any discrimination.

He said the Punjab Election Coordination Committee was in contact with the officials concerned at the divisional and district levels.

Mr Sethi ordered special security arrangements at sensitive polling stations. Provision of security to the leaders of political parties was the duty of the government and it would do every thing in this regard, he added.

He ordered the district and divisional officials concerned to remain in touch with the leaders of political parties.

Generators, emergency lights and gas lamps should be arranged at the polling stations on May 11 so that vote count process was not disrupted by power load-shedding. He said drinking water and other facilities should also be provided to the voters at polling stations.

Mr Sethi said in order to provide maximum recreational facilities to the masses it had been decided to reduce the entertainment tax while circuses had been exempted from the tax.

He said access to information was citizens’ right and Punjab Freedom of Information Act 2013 was of vital importance in this regard. He sought a detailed review of the Act and a report on it in the next meeting.

The CM formed a committee under the tourism minister to finalise the Punjab Senior Citizen Welfare Ordinance 2013, and asked it to submit recommendations for facilitating and protecting the rights of the elderly people.

He also ordered that the draft law of FJMC upgrade to the level of a university be finalised.

Food Minister Qaiser Zulfiqar Khan briefed the chief minister on the status of the wheat procurement campaign in the province.

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