LAHORE, Nov 29: Rana Muhammad Qasim Noon and Sardar Hasan Akhtar Mokal took oath as provincial ministers at the Governor’s House on Saturday morning.
They were administered oath by Governor Khalid Maqbool at a simple ceremony in Darbar Hall.
Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, some cabinet ministers, National Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain, Punjab Assembly Speaker Muhammad Afzal Sahi, Lahore Nazim Mian Amer Mehmood, senior government officials and relatives of the two ministers were present on the occasion.
Mr Noon and Mr Mokal were among the batch of 15 ministers appointed on Nov 25. They could not take oath because they had gone to perform Umra. The batch included five women.
Mr Noon has been given the portfolio of agriculture marketing and Mr Mokal that of management and professional development.
Later, talking to reporters, the chief minister said he was shortly going to start inspections to assess various departments’ performance.
He said the special education sector had been neglected in the province for the past 50 years. His government had for the first time in country’s history allocated Rs400 million for it, enabling the quarters concerned to purchase the necessary equipment.
The chief minister said an independent institute and a separate ministry had also been introduced for special education.
He said the condition of agriculture sector was also not good. “We have always stressed the need for increasing agriculture production without having any idea of its marketing.”
Keeping this in view, the government had created an independent department of agriculture marketing after conducting thorough studies on the subject. “We also sent experts to India to study the subject.”
He said the government would activate the market committees. The new department of agriculture marketing would guide farmers on growing profitable crops.
Replying to questions, Mr Elahi said that performance of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly had been good but its members should have taken part in legislation. “They must consider what they have contributed in the assembly while receiving their salaries.”
The chief minister said the law and order situation in the province was much better than in the past. There had been no incident of sectarian violence which was a big achievement, he said.
He said marked progress had been witnessed with regard to the government-MMA dialogue on LFO and the uniform of the president which was beneficial for democracy.
A reporter was asked by the chief minister to approach the federal information minister for comments when he asked a question regarding the minister’s reported suggestion of a PPP-government dialogue.
He said the proposal regarding exemption of up to five-marla houses from property tax was still under consideration.
Sardar Mokal said though his department had no element of interaction with people it would propose how to make education future-oriented and develop human resources.