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Saturday, April 13, 2024

G-20 provides major debt relief to Pakistan

Minister Fawad Chaudhry has confirmed that G-20 countries suspended the repayment of $ 3.7 billion loan till the year-end. This has boosted confidence among investors.

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain Tuesday said the G-20 countries had suspended the repayment of $ 3.7 billion loan till the year-end, bringing good news for Pakistan’s economy.

“The suspension of loan, which was liable to be paid instantly, is the good news for national economy,” he said while addressing the post-cabinet media briefing.

He said the role of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was akin to the East India Company, which had extracted the money from the Indian Sub-continent and then transferred the same to the United Kingdom.

He said the PML-N was in fact the ‘Modern East India Company’, which was repeating the same tactics for stashing away the money looted from the country.

The only difference between the PML-N and the East India Company was that the former was local and the latter was original foreigner, he added.

Read more: IMF to resume Pakistan’s stalled $6bn loan program

Fawad said those, who used to play local games in “Gawalmandi “ were now watching polo games in London. Any person, who had understanding of the polo games, knew that as to how much expensive it was to have a ‘polo-poly’ in London.

“It is a despicable act,” he said while recalling the requests made by the PML-N leadership for leaving the country on medical grounds.

He said the people were in pain after witnessing their luxurious lifestyle abroad.

The minister said the Federal Cabinet meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, was told that the G-20 had approved the second part of Dalhart’s Group Seasonal Index (DGSI) under which it suspended Pakistan’s $ 3.7 billion loan, which was to be paid instantly, by end of the year, terming it a ‘good news’ for the national economy.

Giving details of the decisions taken in the meeting, he said the cabinet had decided to create a third party mechanism to evaluate funds’ utilization on the projects to be executed in the Centre and provinces under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).

The initiative was aimed at sensitizing the public about the utilization of funds, ensuring execution of the PSDP projects in true letter and spirit, and bringing transparency to the system, he added.

The minister said billions of rupees were being transferred to the provinces from the Centre on account of developmental and non-developmental expenses, but the question arose that as to where the funds were utilized.

“This money belongs to the people of Pakistan and they have every right to know as to where those funds are being utilized,” the minister said, pointing out alleged misappropriation of the PSDP funds in Sindh.

Reiterating the concerns of various political parties of the provincial capital which was allegedly not getting its due share from the PSDP funds provided by the Federal Government, he said it was an open secret now that the socio-economic profile of the many areas in Sindh, including Karachi, Ghotki, Larkana and Badin was worsening due to mismanagement of the allocated funds and corruption.

“The funds being transferred there (Sindh) are being laundered to Canada, Dubai, France and the United Kingdom in a systematic manner,” he revealed.

Read more: PTI Govt. to spend over Rs12,017 million in PSDP 2021-22 on agriculture

As regards the Federal Cabinet’s proceedings, he said the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs told the meeting that the legislation on the electoral reforms had been sent to the Senate after its passage from the National Assembly.

He added that a report on the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) audit system was also submitted to the Ministry of Information Technology.

The minister said this week, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was given a detailed presentation on the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) by the experts, who also responded to the queries of ECP officials.

He said the EVM, developed by the COMSATS, Islamabad, was fully compliant with the 36 conditions given by the ECP in that regard.

Fawad said all-out efforts were being made to ensure use of the EVM in the next by-election, as its use in the polling process was the government’s foremost priority.

In addition to that, another initiative pertaining to I-voting for the overseas Pakistanis was also in the process, he added.

He said the Pakistani expatriates were part and parcel of the country’s political system and that was why the government stressed the need for providing them their long-due voting-right at every cost.

The minister, who was astonished by PML-N’s senior leader Ahsan Iqbal for his remarks on the naïve understanding of the expats on Pakistan’s issues, said it was surprising for him to see that it was being said by the representative of a party whose leadership was residing in London.

He said the properties of the PML-N leadership were in London, and there was a need to evaluate the taxes being paid by them in Pakistan and the UK.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), he said, had sent four questions to the PML-N leader Shehbaz Sharif to answer Rs 25 billion money laundering he committed from two sugar mills.

He urged the judiciary to hold hearing of such cases on day-to-day basis. He said it was unfortunate that the hearing dates were not fixed even for six months, and the whole nation had concern over it.

Read more: Why government removed DG FIA Wajid Zia?

“I have an earnest request to the judiciary to hear major cases on day-to-day basis as the public wants result.”

Fawad asked the media persons to evaluate themselves during the case proceedings in courts whether the same were based on ‘politically manipulation’ or genuine evidence.

He said the cabinet also decided that 42.6 percent income share of the Central Business District, being established at the Walton Airport site, would be given to the Civil Aviation, and 57.4 percent to the Punjab government. The Civil Aviation had the ownership of 52 acres land and the Punjab government-owned 70 acres land, he added.

Due to the airport facility, Fawad said, high-rise buildings were not being constructed in the surrounding locality.

He described Imran Khan the ‘only prime minister,’ who was a true environmentalist and environment-friendly PM, and had serious concern that cities were being expanded without any planning that too horizontally. “But, we need to expand the cities vertically.”

The minister said now billions of rupees investment would pour in due to construction of vertical buildings, which would add in the beauty of Lahore city.

He said the cabinet also discussed the ongoing budget session of the Parliament House and viewed the government wanted a thorough debate on the budget and would listen to the constructive criticism. “But, criticism and insult are two different things,” he said, adding the opposition under the garb of criticism was trying to insult, which was not acceptable in any case.

He said an unpleasant attitude was shown towards the government by the opposition. As planned by Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif, PML-N MNAs were given the task of sloganeering and misconduct. “We will never allow anyone to do such things in the Parliament.”

He said the PTI government had a unanimity that if the opposition parties had to speak, they would must have to listen to the treasury benches’ point of view first. It could not happen that they [opposition] kept speaking for two to three hours, but started misbehaving and hooliganism on the government’s turn.

Read more: Here is a summary of Pakistan’s budget for fiscal Year 2021-22

“The opposition has some misunderstanding that whatever it does is in line with the parliamentary norms, and whatever the government does, is non-democratic. There will be tit-for-tat, you [opposition] will not be able to talk, if you disrupt the speakers from treasury benches,” he said.

He again asked the opposition to first read the budget document and give positive suggestion, assuring to implement its practicable recommendations.

Fawad gave an example of PTI’s leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi, who presented a shadow budget in the Sindh Assembly which was in line with the democratic norms, adding, the opposition could do the same center.

Fawad said the cabinet had also approved National Digital Cable Policy 2021, while the forum had given go ahead for the deployment of seven Community Welfare Attaches abroad.

He said two officers working in Pakistan’s Embassy in Saudi Arabia had also been called backed after complaints were received against them from the Pakistan community living there.

He said that cabinet had also approved regularization of air company M/S AHS Air International (Pvt) Ltd charter lenience class –II from August 17, 2016, while further extension to air company would be given by the Minister for Aviation as per the policy.

Read more: Exclusive interview with Saudi Foreign Minister H.H Faisal bin Saud

The cabinet approved appointment of two members including Saqib Hamdani and Qasif Shahid for Pakistan Postal Service, and also okayed the name of Brig. Numan Ahmed as a member project planning for Heavy Industrial Taxila.

The cabinet also approved handing over of convicted Muhammad Awais, involved in a rape and domestic violence case, to Norway on his own request.

It approved Strom Water Drains project under the Karachi Transformation Plan.

Responding to a question, he said as per the National Digital Policy, the cable providing services across the country to people would be digitalized to improve its quality.

Responding to another query, Fawad said the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) had never boycotted cabinet meetings and all the allied parties were united under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He said as per the decision of the Supreme Court, development funds could not be given to the members of national and provincial assemblies.

Fawad said as per the law, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was bound to give decision in the corruption cases within 30 days.

The minister said he was in favour of dialogue among the state institutions as it would be beneficial for the country.

Read more: Eradicating corruption Pakistan’s highest priority, NAB chief tells UN

He said that the government time and again asked the opposition for dialogue on electoral reforms, but the response was lukewarm.

He said 49 amendments had been introduced in the Election Act, and the government was ready to sit with the opposition to discuss these changes for the supreme national interest.

The minister said the members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz were confused that they had to follow the policy of whom Maryam Nawaz or Shehbaz Sharif.

Courtesy: APP