PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet on Tuesday approved the Rs1.5 billion Insaf Taleem Card programme to waive the feeof all college students in the province for one year.

It also approved a proposal to increase the wheat support price from Rs2,600 per 40kg to Rs3,000 per 40kg to “encourage growers and achieve the goal of wheat self-sufficiency.”

The cabinet met with Chief Minister Mahmood Khan in the chair and ministers and administrative secretaries in attendance.

Higher education minister Kamran Khan Bangash and special assistant to the chief minister Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif later told reporters that the provincial government would pay all college fees of around 260,000 students enrolled in the province’s all 275 degree and 42 commerce colleges.

Wheat support price also increased to encourage crop cultivation

Mr Bangash said the fee waiver would be given to the students of both general and commerce colleges.

He said the initiative would cost the province Rs1.5 billion to be utilised to pay fees for intermediate and bachelor’s classes.

“We [government] will bear admission, tuition and other costs of all students of intermediate as well as two semester fees of those enrolled in bachelor’s programmes,” he said.

The minister said the Insaf Taleem Card programme had been appreciated by both parents and students as it would benefit families from middle and lower middle classes.

The cabinet also approved the World Bank’s National Health Support Project (NHSP) for strengthening primary healthcare in the province, according to Mr Saif.

He said the NHSP allocations for the province totalled $72.7 million, including $50.9 million loan and $21.8 million grant.

The CM’s aide said the cabinet approved the revision of forest duty on various forest produce to achieve the enhanced revenue targets and increase timber rate on the local market.

He said the ‘forest duty’ on blue pine had been enhanced from Rs40 per cubic feet to Rs50 per cubic feet and on chir, fir, spruce, chilghoza, Quetta pine and conifer trees from Rs35 per cubic feet to 40 per cubic feet.

Mr Saif added that the duty was last revised in 2015.

He said the cabinet also approved the inclusion of the Minamata Convention on Mercury in the schedule of the Environmental Protection Act, 2014.

The convention was signed on Oct 10, 2013, and ratified in Dec 2020 to protect human health and environment from ‘anthropogenic’ carbon emission and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.

The cabinet approved the renaming of the category D hospital in Maidan, Lower Dir, as the Shaheed Malik Jehan Alam Hospital in recognition of the services of MPA Malik Liaqat Ali and his family for the area.

Mr Malik Jehan Alam was martyred on August 6, 2022, during an attempt on the life of his brother, Malik Liaqat Ali.

Mr Saif said the cabinet also approved the nomination of two members for the KP Blood Transfusion Authority for three years as well as the draft agreement between the Provincial Housing Authority and Naya Pakistan Housing and Development Authority to build 1,320 flats in Jalozai housing scheme of Nowshera district. Approval was also accorded to the budget and revised estimates for the financial year 2021-22 and budget estimates for the financial year 2022-23 in respect of the Provincial Housing Authority.

The CM’s aide said the cabinet approved a proposal for the vacation of a piece of land measuring six kanals and three marlas on Warsak Road, Peshawar, by the irrigation department and handover to the housing department for development work to establish a multi-storey commercial and residential building.

The irrigation department will shift its offices to the alternative site, while the housing department will ensure the payment of Rs65 million to it for the construction of offices and shifting of machinery to the new site.

Also, the cabinet approved the extension of the KP Educational and Training Institution Ordinance, 1971, to the Cadet College, Mamad Gat, Mohmand tribal district, to give it the legal cover. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Higher Education Research Endowment Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2022, was also approved for the inclusion of public sector colleges, reconstitution of the board of directors, ‘reshaping’ of the powers and functions of the board and related provisions, and audit of the fund by the accountant general office.

Mutation of 100 kanals state land in the name of higher education department was also approved for the establishment of the Gomal University’s Tank campus.

The cabinet approved the recommendations of a cabinet committee regarding the creation of Zone VI comprising Upper and Lower Kohistan, Kolai-Palas, Torghar, Battagram, Buner and Shangla, Tank, Haripur and Mansehra districts and backward areas of Swabi district (Gadoon).

It also approved the payment of special compensation package of Rs1 million each for the three children kidnapped and abused in Peshawar as well as the appointment of BPS-20 PCS officer Mohammad Arshad as the chief executive officer of the KP Charities Commission.

Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2022

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