• Cabinet avoids discussion on Faizabad sit-in commission report
• PM Shehbaz asks Chinese to boost investments in coal sector
• Information minister says private Saudi investors to visit Pakistan ‘soon’

ISLAMABAD: Anticipating a bumper wheat crop, the federal cabinet on Wednesday decided to write a letter to all provinces to enhance their wheat procurement targets and set a good price for the commodity to facilitate farmers and ensure the availability of the staple in the market.

During a cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif directed the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to work out an effective strategy in coordination with provincial governments for achieving the wheat procurement target.

“Bumper wheat crop is expected in the country and letters are being written to all four provinces to increase their wheat procurement target so that the farmers can get a better reward for their hard work,” Information Minister Attaullah Tarar said at a press conference after the cabinet meeting.

During the meeting, PM Shehbaz said Saudi investments to the tune of billions of dollars were expected to land in the country following a visit of the Saudi delegation led by its foreign minister. “We must ensure the completion of this investment in Pakistan with the same spirit and dedication,” he said, adding that there would be no hindrances.

“It is a good omen that Pakistan, a strategically located nuclear state, is in the news for good reasons, especially on the economic front,” he said, adding that the news about “improvement” in Pakistan’s economy from international institutions and journals was also encouraging.

At the presser, Minister Tarar revealed that a delegation of private investors from Saudi Arabia would also visit Pakistan soon and hold meetings for collaboration in various fields.

In response to a question about the Faizabad sit-in commission report which suggested legislation to regulate the intelligence agencies, the information minister said the federal cabinet did not discuss the commission’s report.

Cabinet decisions

The cabinet approved a bill regarding the establishment of the Institute of Modern Sciences in Wah Cantonment. In this regard, the prime minister directed to form a committee to further “improve the procedure” for establishing new universities and higher education institutions. The committee headed by the education minister would include the petroleum minister, the IT minister, and the attorney general for Pakistan as its members.

The cabinet, on the recommendation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, allowed former ambassador Manzoor Ahmad Chaudhry to receive the Commandeur de L’Ordre award from the government of Cote d’Ivoire in recognition of his services.

On the recommendation of the Ministry of Law and Justice, the meeting approved the conversion of Accountability Court-VIII Karachi to Special Court (Customs, Taxation and Anti-Smugg­ling-II), Accountability Court-III Hyderabad to Ban­king Court Mirpur Khas, Accountability Court-III Sukkur to Banking Court Ghotki, and Accountability Court-IV Sukkur to Banking Court Shaheed Benazirabad.

The cabinet also authorised the Special Court-II (Anti-Terrorism) to hear cases under the Official Secrets Act 1923.

The cabinet also approved signing a memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, and the Qatar government regarding labour relations, inspections, and occupational safety and health. It was informed that currently, 300,000 Pakistanis were working in Qatar, who were sending foreign exchange worth Rs850 million to Pakistan.

The cabinet also approved the Federal Public Private Policy of Pakistan 2023-2028 on the recommendation of the Ministry of Planning and Special Initiatives. In this regard, the prime minister directed all the ministries to submit their proposals. The cabinet endorsed the decisions taken in its meeting held on April 4.

Chinese delegation

In a separate meeting with a delegation of Shanghai Electric Group led by Chairman Wu Lei, the PM assured him that the government would make no compromise on the security of Chinese workers in Pakistan.

PM Shehbaz said that the government would ensure all possible facilitation of Chinese investors to expand the ongoing projects. He urged the Chinese firms to convert power plants from imported to local coal and increase their investment in the coal mining sector.

The Shanghai Electric Group is currently working on the Thar coal mine development and a 1320MW coal power project. “The Thar coal projects executed by the group are annually saving around $400 million,” said a press release.

Development of Balochistan

In a meeting with Balochistan Chief Minister Sarfraz Bugti, the prime minister said that the development of the province was among the top priorities of the federal government. He expressed deep grief over the rain-related losses and assured that the federal government would “support the provincial government in the rehabilitation of the affected people”.

PM Shehbaz maintained that the federal government would also support the provincial government in the education sector. He added the network of Daanish schools was being expanded to the province.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2024

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