Cabinet approves lease of state land for corporate farming under CPEC

Published March 2, 2022
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar chairs a meeting of the cabinet on Tuesday. — Screengrab via Govt of Punjab Twitter
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar chairs a meeting of the cabinet on Tuesday. — Screengrab via Govt of Punjab Twitter

LAHORE: The Punjab cabinet on Tuesday approved leasing out of state land for corporate farming under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The cabinet which met under the chair of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar directed a ministerial committee to devise the lease rules while approving 500 to 5,000 acres of land for corporate farming to create job opportunities and to modernise the agriculture sector for food security.

The issue of corporate farming under CPEC was pending since the PML-N government, which had set up a special cell at the agriculture department to work out modalities for the purpose and had planned to establish seven agro-economic zones along the CPEC route to take full advantage of the development opportunity coming its way by promoting high-value agriculture and related businesses there.

The department also tried to woo investment from China by offering partnerships in organic farming, hi-tech agricultural mechanization industry for domestic as well as export purposes, development of precision and high-value agriculture, development & production of seed and seed technology (hybrid and open pollinated varieties), manufacturing of pesticides and fertilizer units along the CPEC route, and processing units for value-addition of agriculture products along the CPEC route.

The cabinet also decided to declare unclassified forests as protected forests along with declaring Namal Lake a wetland. It was decided to transfer rare birds from the first schedule to the third schedule and from the fourth schedule to the third schedule under Punjab Wildlife Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management Amendment Act, 2007.

Mr Buzdar sought a policy for giving proprietary rights to the dwellers of katchi abadis in the next meeting while the cabinet also approved the Punjab Sahulat Bazaar Authority Act, 2021. The chief minister and industries minister would be the chairman and vice-chairman of the authority.

The cabinet forwarded the issue of determination of eligibility and constitution of the search committee for posting vice-chancellor of University of Health Science, Lahore, to the law department and accorded approval to amendment in Punjab Regularization of Service Act, 2018. Under it, it has been decided to amend rules to make permanent the contract employees of some departments.

The cabinet approved amendments to the birth control policy for pie-dogs, Punjab Road Safety Authority Act, 2020, and Punjab Drugs Rules, 2007. A technical supplementary grant was also approved.

It also decided to amalgamate technical and vocational institutions at one platform and the reconstitution of the district consumer protection council and Punjab Private Schools Regulatory Authority.

The participants approved austerity measures for 2021-22 and expansion of the scope of the Waseela Taleem programme of secondary education and Punjab Examination Business Rules, 2021. Upgrade of different posts in the light of recommendations of the ACS-led committee and of telephone operators of all the departments were also approved. Similarly, the upgrade of prisons and other departments were also endorsed.

Approval was granted to give DDO powers to SHOs along with the approval of 720 posts of accountants (senior clerks in grade 14).

The matter of transfer of land for the Murree judicial complex was sent to the ministerial committee. The cabinet declared Tilla Reserve Forest in Kotla Jogian a national park.

Transfer of land for a model police station, arazi centre and Rescue 1122 station in Gujrat area of Kot Addu was approved.

Similarly, approval was granted to depute staff for Phase II of the national programme for the improvement of watercourses in Pakistan (Punjab component) under PSDP and ADP.

The meeting gave its nod to the auction of the pesticides procured for anti-locust operations in Punjab. Amendment in Punjab Luxury House Tax Rules, 2014 and establishment of accreditation committee of higher education department was approved along with approval to amend sub-clause 3 of Punjab Finance Act, 2021. At least a 95 per cent exemption on the token tax of electric vehicles in Punjab was approved.

The meeting approved: the annual report 2019-20 of PCTB; AGP audit report for 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20; information system audit report for 2019-20 about bus schedule system and automatic fare collection of PMA; special audit report about corona expenditures for 2019-20; annual report of 2019 of Punjab Baitul Maal Council; annual audit and performance report of PJA for 2016-17 and 2017-18 and annual reports of Punjab Commission on the Status of Women for 2019 and 2020.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2022

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