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Cabinet okays draft NSC law

January 29, 2004

ISLAMABAD, Jan 28: The federal cabinet approved on Wednesday the draft law for setting up a National Security Council through an act of parliament. The cabinet meeting, which was presided over by Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali, also approved the establishment of a Pakistan Intellectual Property Rights Organization (Pipro) to meet international obligations under the World Trade Order (WTO) regime.

An official announcement said the draft NSC bill would be tabled in parliament following an understanding reached with the MMA that the security council would be set up under an act of parliament.

The proposed bill seeks to establish a National Security Council to serve as a forum for consultations on matters of national security, including the sovereignty, integrity, and defence and security of the state, crisis management, democracy, governance and inter-provincial harmony.

The bill envisages that the president of Pakistan shall be the chairman of the council and its other members will be the prime minister, the chairman of the Senate, the speaker of the National Assembly, the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, the chief ministers of the provinces, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and the chiefs of staff of the Pakistan Army, Navy and Pakistan Air Force.

The cabinet approved the setting up of a Pakistan Intellectual Property Rights Organization (Pipro) for the overall management of the intellectual property rights in the country. It will integrate the three different intellectual property right offices functioning at present which have created difficulties in implementing the regime because of overlapping responsibilities.

Pipro will be administrated by a policy board comprising the representatives of the ministries concerned. The cabinet also approved the mobile cellular policy, 2004, aimed at expanding mobile telephony service at competitive rates, promote mobile cellular coverage and encourage fair competition among service providers.

The prime minister directed that in implementing the policy, transparency and fair competition should be the guiding principle. He also asked the information technology ministry to ensure that commitments made to the existing operators were met fully.

The cabinet approved amendments to the Federal Employees Benevolent Fund and Group Insurance Act, 1999, providing for 20 per cent increase in the monthly grant for the existing 44,000 beneficiaries.

It will entail raising of the grant from a maximum of Rs270 to Rs880 per month while the maximum grant will be Rs4,000 instead of Rs1,620 per month. It was also decided to increase the contribution of the employees from Rs100 to Rs150 per month in the fund.

This increase in contribution will not be applicable to the low-paid employees of the federal government. The cabinet appreciated the gesture of the Punjab government for providing 50,000 tons of wheat to Sindh to meet its current shortage.