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KARACHI: At the fag end of its five-year term, the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government on Monday approved the province’s first-ever agriculture and youth policies.

The two policies were presented before the Sindh cabinet, which met here with Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in the chair, and after hours-long deliberation it approved what was being billed as the government’s major policy decisions.

Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal while presenting the agriculture policy informed the cabinet that it was complimented by a series of background studies in the areas of macroeconomic factors in addition to consultation with farmers and other stakeholders.

The policy would remain in place till 2030, he added. However, various legal, regulatory, institutional and expenditure-related changes set out in the policy would be implemented over a period of two years — 2018-20.

Sharing some facts with the cabinet, CM Shah said that in terms of agriculture, Sindh accounted for 18 per cent of the country’s land area, 16pc of its total cropped area and contributed about 23pc to the national value-added agriculture.

10 buses to be brought in Karachi in one week; new prosecutor general named

He, however, said that the sector did not perform to its potential in financial year 2015-16 which led to the agriculture growth being negative for the first time in the country.

He said that more critically, what little growth had occurred was the result of more land, water and input, higher livestock numbers or greater fishing effort.

The CM added that such an input-based pattern of growth was not sustainable as it was estimated that by 2025 the water requirements for agriculture would increase by about 50pc if the current irrigation practices continued. “In coming years, enhanced productivity has to take over as the principal engine of growth,” he added.

The salient features of the new policy include increasing credit flows into crop, livestock and fisheries and for associated rural off-farm activities; development of new instruments such as warehouse receipts and building linkages; formal and informal sources of credit; to simplify the procedure for land use, land transfer and lease for establishment of rural enterprise; to reform the legal and regulatory system governing agriculture and livestock marketing and to redesign the price support system; to improve legislation, regulations, labelling and quality oversight in the market for inputs, particularly for seed, fertilisers, pesticides, animal feed and veterinary medicines, as well as for certification system for organic crop, livestock and fisheries products.

It also includes attracting investors, both domestic and foreign, to rural areas through fiscal incentives; a better legal/regulatory environment for commercial farming, cold chain and agro-based industry and to promote export of high-value food production; to review and reallocate government expenditure on agriculture as well as direct and indirect subsidies; to restructure, rightsize and rationalise government departments concerned to be made ‘fit for purpose’ avoiding duplication of efforts with improved conditions; to reform the public research and extension system for crops, horticulture, livestock and fisheries, particularly their governance mechanism.

Revival of students’ union proposed

The cabinet was informed that the Sindh youth policy, said to have been formed in consultation with all stakeholders, was the central tool to systematically integrate, implement and evaluate all youth development work in the province.

It aims at building youths who are economically sound, socially progressive and politically engaged and who possess appropriate skills and tolerant values of good citizens.

The highlights of the youth policy include establishment of a youth development commission; centralised information system on youth development and job database; formation of a job bank; establishment of institute placement bureaus; establishment of youth venture capital fund, annual innovation competitions and formation of small incubation centres at universities; entrepreneurship training at universities by private sector, crash programme of technical education; youth-led mass awareness campaigns; devise models of elected student councils, exposure trips, reactivation of students union, establishment of artisan support programme, reactivation of boys and girls guides at school and such others.

10 AC buses to be brought in one week

The cabinet also approved a plan to bring 10 air-conditioned intra-city buses in Karachi within one week as a pilot project.

Transport Minister Syed Nasir Shah told the cabinet that the fare slab for operation of the 10 AC buses on intra-city routes had been proposed in consultation with all the stakeholders at Rs20 for less than five kilometres, Rs30 for five to 15km and Rs40 for 15km and above.

These buses would run from Quaidabad to Tower via Malir, Star Gate, Sharea Faisal, Shah Faisal Colony, Natha Khan, Drigh Road, PAF Gate, Karsaz, Baloch Colony, Nursery, Jinnah Hospital, Metropole Hotel, Fawwara Chowk, Arts Council, I.I. Chundrigar Road.

The cabinet also approved the appointment of Ayaz Hussain Tunio as the new prosecutor general of Sindh.

Previously, the government appointed Fiazul Hassan to the post but he was stopped from taking the office as he is younger than the required age of 45.

The cabinet also made some amendments in the Sindh Sports Board. Earlier, it was headed by the governor and now it would be chaired by Sindh chief minister with provincial sports minister as its vice chairman.

Bill for NTS-passed teachers

The cabinet also discussed the issue of regularisation of NTS-passed teachers, who were appointed on a contract basis and a bill to regularise them was passed by the assembly but the governor returned it with the observations that the teachers were appointed to address the issue of non-availability of teachers at union council/taluka levels but the bill categorically killed the spirit of the policy.

The cabinet after addressing the observations made by the governor referred the bill back to the assembly to pass it again and also decided that the teachers’ transfer/posting would be made in such a way that no school would be deprived of a teacher.

The cabinet also approved the draft bills to establish Shaikh Ayaz University after upgrading the Shikarpur campus of the Shah Abdul Latif University, and also approved the establishment of Begum Nusrat Bhutto Women University, Sukkur.

Also, the cabinet on the recommendation of the Sindh High Court chief justice repatriated District and Sessions Judge Mushtaq Ahmed Kalwar, presently working as the presiding officer of the Sindh Labour Court No. VI, Hyderabad, and approved nomination of DJ Abrar Hussain F. Memon, presently working as presiding officer of the Sindh Labour Court No. VIII, Larkana in place of Mushtaq Ahmed Kalwar with the request to the CJ to nominate a presiding officer for the Sindh labour Court No. VIII, Larkana, which had fallen vacant.

Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2018