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KARACHI: In a major policy decision, the Sindh government is set to table a bill in the provincial assembly’s upcoming session to repeal the applicability of the National Accountability Ordinance of 1999 in the province.

The Sindh cabinet gave the green light to the provincial government in this regard in its meeting held at the Chief Minister House on Friday.

Presided over by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, the meeting, which lasted for over three hours, also decided to not delay the execution of the K-IV water supply project, impose a ban on new sugar mills in the province and provide incentives to new captive power plants to overcome electricity crisis.

The cabinet also formed a committee to examine the powers of transfer and postings of civil servants of the provincial government under Section 4 of the Civil Servants Act.

The cabinet unanimously approved repealing of The National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999 and decided to introduce amendments in the ordinance in the provincial assembly session, which has been summoned by Governor Mohammad Zubair on Monday.

Earlier, the cabinet was informed that the NAO, 1999, enacted in pursuance of the proclamation of emergency of Oct 14, 1999 and Provisional Constitution Order of October 1999 was also made applicable to the provinces and was subsequently included in Schedule VI of the Constitution along with the Local Government Ordinance 2001 and Police Order 2002 in order to prevent the provinces from repealing or amending the laws.

The cabinet was told that the Proclamation of Emergency of October 14, 1999 and PCO were declared to have been made without lawful authority by parliament and the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution was omitted under the 18th Amendment to the Constitution.

The meeting was further informed that the emergency legislation on any provincial subject by parliament ceased to have any effect after six months of lifting of emergency under Article 232(5) and 234(6) of the Constitution and measures to combat corruption being concurrent subject in the Constitution of 1956 now exclusively vest in the provinces not being mentioned in the Federal Legislative List of the Constitution and the executive and legislative authority of the province fully extended to the offences with respect to provincial subjects.

Under Entry 55 of the Federal Legislative List Part-I of the Constitution, the federal government can establish courts on the matters enumerated only in the Federal Legislative List and the subjects of anti-corruption or offences with respect to provincial subjects not mentioned in the said list, establishing any such courts as provided under NAO 1999 extending their jurisdiction and powers to the provinces neither was nor is [in] consonance with the Constitution and amounts to exercising executive authority in the province by an authority or government other than the lawfully elected provincial government.

The cabinet was briefed that under the Constitution the provincial assembly was competent to repeal the relevant laws enacted by parliament to the extent of province of Sindh or they cease to have effect after six months of lifting of emergency, respectively.

In the light of the briefing given to the cabinet by Law Minister Ziaul Hassan Lanjar and Advocate General Zamir Ghumro, it was unanimously decided to repeal the NAO 1999 and present the draft bill in the assembly.

Rs24.7bn K-IV water project

Local Government Minister Jam Khan Shoro briefed the cabinet on the Rs24.7 billion K-IV water supply project.

He said that it included Rs15.2bn package-A and Rs9.5bn package-B for civil work — construction of canal, siphons and conduits — and for mechanical works — procurement of machinery and filter plants, respectively.

He told the cabinet that the work on package-A was being carried out by the Frontier Works Organisation, while the agreement for package-B was yet to be signed.

He added that the cost of package-B had escalated by Rs3.8bn for which he sought the cabinet’s approval.

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said that the escalation cost of the project of package-B was within 15 per cent permissible limit as per rules. He added that he would talk to the federal government to share the financial burden.

Tariff differential support to CPPs

CM Shah said that the Sindh Assembly had already adopted a resolution to provide tariff differential support to captive power plants (CPPs) in Sindh.

He said that industrial, commercial and residential consumers of electricity were suffering due to an acute power shortage. Therefore, the government wanted to take some urgent steps to alleviate such sufferings of people of Sindh.

He said that the new CPPs had been lying idle due to the decision of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority to fix tariff for such plants which made them economically non-viable.

He added that it was expedient to provide tariff differential support to owners of such CPPs, in order to incentivise them to operate their idle power plants to increase the available electrical energy in Sindh, thereby alleviating the sufferings of consumers.

The cabinet approved the proposal and recommended to present the draft bill in the next session of the assembly.

Ban on new sugar mills

The cabinet was told that the province already had a large number of sugar mills and there was no need to issue any more no-objection certificate or permission to install additional sugar mills in Sindh.

It was pointed out that due to installation of more sugar mills the cotton growers were continuously switching over to sugar cane crop. This not only disturbed historical cropping pattern but affects the textile industry of the country.

Information Minister Syed Nasir Shah told the media that the Punjab government had already imposed a ban on new sugar mills.

The cabinet members unanimously approved imposition of a ban on issuance of new licences for sugar mills.

The meeting was attended by provincial ministers, Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon, advisers and special assistants to the chief minister and secretaries concerned. Inspector General of Police A.D. Khowaja was not present in the cabinet meeting.

Published in Dawn, July 1st, 2017