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Bahawalpur hosts first-ever meeting of Punjab cabinet

Updated December 30, 2018

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Chief Minister Usman Buzdar chaired the 46-member sixth cabinet meeting having ministers, advisers and special assistants besides chief secretary, administrative secretaries and other officials in attendance at the Islamia University Old Campus conference hall. ─ File photo
Chief Minister Usman Buzdar chaired the 46-member sixth cabinet meeting having ministers, advisers and special assistants besides chief secretary, administrative secretaries and other officials in attendance at the Islamia University Old Campus conference hall. ─ File photo

BAHAWALPUR: The Punjab cabinet in its first meeting in south Punjab on Saturday took major decisions such as approving water and labour policies, increasing teaching and general cadre doctors’ pay package, levying user charges in teaching hospitals and lifting ban on the recruitment of the disabled against their three per cent quota across the province.

It also okayed subsidy on export of sugar during the meeting which has been hailed as a historic occasion.

Chief Minister Usman Buzdar chaired the 46-member sixth cabinet meeting having ministers, advisers and special assistants besides chief secretary, administrative secretaries and other officials in attendance at the Islamia University Old Campus conference hall. The entire government machinery, said the chief minister, was in Bahawalpur to remove a sense of deprivation among the people of south Punjab.

“Never in the past 70 years did any Punjab cabinet meeting take place outside Lahore,” he said while calling it an honour for Bahawalpur.

Responding to a question regarding decisions about creation of south Punjab province, establishment of a separate secretariat and development works, the chief minister said all such issues would be discussed with Bahawalpur division’s political representatives in separate development and law and order meetings.

“The decision to create south Punjab province will be taken with consensus instead of my personal will,” the chief minister said, adding the cut-off date for south Punjab secretariat would be the beginning of the next financial year.

The cabinet in its three-hour meeting approved the Punjab Water Policy draft aimed at ensuring safe drinking water for the general public and use of latest technology to pump out underground water. It also gave a go ahead to establish the Punjab Water Council to be headed by the chief minister and co-chaired by the irrigation minister. The agriculture minister would be a member.

Sitting approves pay raise for doctors, subsidy on sugar export; Buzdar says issues like creation of south Punjab province will be discussed with political representatives of area

The cabinet took up and approved an unsolicited proposal by the Defence Housing Authority, Rawalpindi; DHA Islamabad; Bahria Town, Ltd, Habib Rafique (JV Partner) for grant of concession for the construction operation and maintenance of Dadhocha Dam in Rawalpindi on Build Operate Transfer (BOT) basis. The meeting also gave its nod for the handing over of control of lower portion of the Chashma Right Bank Canal (CRBC) and supply of full share of water from the CRBC to Punjab.

The cabinet approved the Labour Deletion Policy that would bind the foreign investors and companies to inform the PSDF, Tevta and the PVTC about its skilled, semi-skilled and labour requirements.

The foreign companies coming independently or under the CPEC would be required to induct 90 per cent unskilled Pakistani labour by the end of second year and to the optimum level by third year. Similarly, 70 per cent and 100pc semi-skilled Pakistani labour by second and third year, respectively needs to be inducted. The foreign companies will be required to recruit 50 per cent skilled labour by second year and 80 per cent by third year as well as 50 per cent top management, technocrats and supervisors by the end of third year.

Discussing four agenda items related to the specialised healthcare and medical education department, the cabinet approved increase in pay package for the teaching as well as general cadre doctors ranging from Rs30,000 to Rs35,000, while doctors in remote areas would be having better package. The pay raise will cost the Punjab government around Rs17 billion a year.

The cabinet approved uniformity in user charges for outdoor patients with regard to lab and diagnostic tests in all teaching hospitals in the province.

It gave a go ahead to regularise the services of assistant professors serving on a contract for more than three years in medical colleges in D.G. Khan, Sahiwal and Sialkot. Those assistant professors will be asked to stay at their present station for a certain period.

The cabinet also approved relaxing the procurement rules for the purchase of 279 ventilators and ICU Beds with Basic ICU Equipment to be installed in public hospitals. It approved rationalization of allocation of vehicles to the provincial cabinet members, secretaries and subordinate staff.

The cabinet asked the advisory council to prepare and submit recommendations to the chief minister for the establishment of South Punjab Forest Company (SPFC). It approved presenting the Annual Performance Report 2017 of Punjab Power Development Board (PPDB), energy department, before the Punjab Assembly for final approval.

The cabinet also approved funds that lapsed during financial year 2017-18 in respect of the Rawalpindi Waste Management Company (RWMC).

In another decision, it allowed the social welfare department to recruit people against 325 posts in BS-1 to 16 in its seven ongoing schemes in relaxation of ban on fresh recruitment.

The meeting approved a search committee besides finalising eligibility criteria for the selection and appointment of vice chancellor of the Cholistan University of Veterinary and Animal Science, Bahawalpur. The chief minister told journalists that he considered whole of Punjab his home and would go to every nook and corner besides holding cabinet meetings in all the divisional headquarters. He later chaired two meetings on law and order and development profile of the division.

The next cabinet meeting is expected to be held in Sargodha which will be followed by Multan.

Published in Dawn, December 30th, 2018

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