ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday deferred the proposed increase in the television licence fee charged from the country’s electricity consumers and also approved amendments to money laundering and terror financing acts as well as the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 to meet Financial Action Task Force (FATF) requirements.
The cabinet, which met with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair, also lauded the government’s decision to make public assets by advisers and special assistants to the prime minister and stressed the need to ensure uninterrupted supply of wheat/flour and stability in prices.
“Today the proposal to increase TV fee from Rs35 to Rs100 was placed before the cabinet which was deferred,” Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz said during his press conference after the cabinet meeting.
He said the cabinet discussed in detail the reasons behind the proposal to increase TV licence fee. The meeting was apprised of the dismal state of Pakistan Television (PTV), which was on the brink of collapse due to faulty policies of the previous governments and overstaffing without merit, he added.
“Once the PTV, Pakistan Steel Mills and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) were our pride, but due to corruption and faulty policies of the former rulers, these entities are on the verge of disaster,” Mr Faraz said.
Approves amendments to acts to meet FATF requirements; PM orders smooth wheat supply, stern action to keep prices stable
“The [previous rulers] destroyed institutions, earned money and made political inductions in these institutions in violation of merit,” the minister said, adding that it was the PTI government which had held them accountable for their misdeeds.
He said PTV’s restructuring required ample amount which was why an increase in TV licence fee was recommended.
“PTV will be restructured as its equipment and cameras are outdated with no production (programmes) taking place,” he added.
Mr Faraz said when the government took up the issues of sugar scam, fake degrees of PIA pilots and assets of the prime minister’s advisers and special assistants, the opposition, instead of appreciating the government, started criticising it.
Talking about the opposition’s plan to call a multi-party conference of opposition parties after Eidul Azha, the minister said: “They [opposition leaders] are worried about their corruption cases, which was why they are holding the conference.”
The cabinet approved proposed amendments to Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010, Anti-Terrorism Act, 1992 and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898. “The cabinet approved amendments to these laws to meet FATF requirements regarding money laundering and terror financing,” Shibli Faraz said.
The proposed amendments reflect the government’s firm resolve to strengthen its anti-money laundering regime in the country. These amendments are aimed at streamlining the existing anti-money laundering laws in line with international standards specified by FATF.
The cabinet also approved formation of ‘Cash Management & Treasury Single Account’ to effectively manage cash balance in the government’s bank accounts and ensure availability of cash when required.
The federal cabinet was apprised of the persisting wheat and flour crisis which was marred by high prices and hoarding.
The information minister said Prime Minister Khan had directed smooth supply of wheat and wheat flour and stern action to keep the commodity’s prices stable in the market.
“There is a demand gap of 1.5 million tonnes of wheat, which is why the government has allowed both the relevant government departments and private individuals to import wheat,” he added.
The prime minister, he added, had also asked the Sindh government to waive off excise duty on the import of wheat.
Mr Faraz said some cabinet members told the prime minister that though the government had disbursed over Rs144 billion to people under the Ehsaas programme, it had not benefited the government politically.
“At this the prime minister was of the view that the programme was aimed at benefiting the poor and deserving class and not meant to gain political mileage,” he said.
The cabinet also approved the National Health Emergency Response Act to ensure better coordination between the centre and provinces in case of natural calamity, the minister added.
Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2020