LAHORE: The Punjab government is going to unfurl a gigantic reform programme in basic sectors such as health, education, labour and water in the next 20 days, introducing new laws and amending the existing ones with mechanisms for their enforcement.

The reform package involves nearly 14 departments including tourism, labour, agriculture and local government, introducing corrective measures to make them deliver and serve the people.

“Our deadline is Nov 28, the completion of the first 100 days of the PTI government, but we are in a hurry to put our reforms in motion before this,” a senior official told Dawn on Sunday.

Officials said the government was going to introduce a new water management regime, making a policy in league with the irrigation, forest and local government (read Wasa) departments. It would regulate water usage and make all users pay for it.

They said the government was making it compulsory for parents to send their children to schools otherwise they would be punished. It was also going to introduce teachers’ licensing and grading, declaring which teacher is fit for which level and type of school.

It was going to introduce an authority for private schools, including parents in their management networks. All schools would be graded and their fees would strictly match their level of education.

Officials said the government was going to establish a Workers Welfare Board on the pattern of the Sindh government to collect funds from industrialists and utilise them for the welfare of workers. The federal government collects a certain percentage of the profits of all industrial units. “At present, it has Rs160 billion under this head but does not give any share to provinces even on repeated demands. Our own board will collect the fund and use it on the working class,” an official said.

Officials said the government was improving the existing laws on child labour. For the first time in the history of the province, it was going to introduce a law on domestic labour to strictly regulate it, and particularly disallow engagement of children as home servants.

The government was formulating a policy for expanding tourism in the province in line with the programme of the federal government. The final policy guidelines would be given by the federal government but it would be implemented by the provinces. Punjab had already identified new tourist destinations and would, under the policy, ensure facilitation of tourism there, providing better facilities and ensuring foolproof security to tourists from home and abroad.

Another major area would be technical education. At present, Tevta, the PVTC and the Punjab Skilled Development are separately imparting technical education under three different departments. The first is under the industry department, the second under zakat and ushr and the third under P&D.

“The Punjab Skilled Development programme is better than the first two as it is being funded by foreign agencies. But there is no coordination among the three. The Punjab government is now going to create a joint database of all the three bodies, even enlisting all the graduates and their utility in the job market,” they said.

Yet another major point would be the expansion of the health card facility all over the province, getting insured every poor family, allowing them free treatment in private hospitals up to an annual Rs350,000.

Officials said that at the moment the departments concerned were working overtime to give final shape to their laws and policies. Many laws had already been finalised and were pending approval by the cabinet.

Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2018

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