The Federal Cabinet on Wednesday approved a number of agenda items, enhancing cooperation and agreements between Pakistan and other countries in the field of aviation, defence, interior, health, law and order and others.

The cabinet also approved a policy to outsource the management of the country's three major airports along the lines of a public-private partnership.

"This is the policy that was approved by the Civil Aviation Authority in 2015," Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said while briefing the media following the cabinet meeting.

"By including private companies in the public sector, the management of the airports will be outsourced," she said, adding that Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad's international airports would be the first to be tackled by this change in policy.

The state minister explained that the policy made clear that the roles of operation, management and maintenance will be separate from the regulator.

"Airports across the world are regulated by organisations such as the Civil Aviation Authority and managed by private companies," Aurangzeb maintained.

"There are different operations of public-private partnerships. Under these models, not only have management and maintenance been outsourced to private companies, but also if a private company wants to build an airport they will be facilitated," she said.

"Across the world, the regulator and the service provider are not the same," the minister said.

Aurungzeb explained that because the regulator and service provider have remained the same in Pakistan, any incident that took place ─ for example if drugs were found on a flight ─ it had to be investigated by the service provider.

She added that a plan in this regard is yet to be made and signed with the private sector. "Once the plan is signed, an announcement will be made."

Moratorium on new gas connections lifted

The federal cabinet lifted moratorium on new gas connections, following a green signal from the Cabinet Committee on Energy.

The cabinet also approved execution of gas development schemes, initiated during the present government.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while discussing problems related to housing sector, said in view of growing urbanisation, the government would facilitate the low income groups in housing sector.

He said urbanisation was increasing at a rapid pace due to development activities and there was a need to cater to the demands in housing sector.

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