News Analysis |
Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired the meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) on Monday. It was the first ever meeting held and chaired by the PTI Chief since he assumed his office. The meeting was held at Prime Minister Office and attended by Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa CM Mahmood Khan, Balochistan’s Jam Kamal and other officials.
In the CCI meeting, a detailed discussion was held on the agreed upon distribution of resources between the Center and the provinces after the 18th amendment. The meeting had a 7-point agenda, according to media reports. The summaries to launch a countrywide cleanliness drive and to streamline the regulatory functions of the Federal Government were presented for approval in the meeting, according to sources.
The first meeting of the CCI has given a hope to many observers in Pakistan that PTI-led government will focus on resolving all the outstanding issues of economy and politics in the country without any delay.
Other agenda points include the harmonization of standards between the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority and provincial food authorities, the Petroleum Exploration and Production Policy 2012, the Workers Welfare Fund, Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution and the import of liquefied natural gas. It is important to mention here that the Petroleum Policy 2012 provides an incentive package for onshore areas on the basis of risk and investment requirements as per the zones.
The Ministry of Energy would take the provinces on board and seek approval for creating one more zone for the onshore exploration of oil to oil and gas exploration companies in the frontier region along with other amendments in the Petroleum Policy 2012. The first session of the Council of Common Interests also decided that the LNG deal would be made public as it deliberated on the rest of the seven-point agenda including the issues of energy and water.
Moreover, Prime Minister Khan stressed on making the provinces more autonomous and the need to make sure that the distribution of resources was transparent. He also took the Council into confidence on the new local government system and comprehensive reforms. The sources said the Prime Minister vowed to utilize all resources in order to ensure water supply to Karachi.
The summaries to launch a countrywide cleanliness drive and to streamline the regulatory functions of the Federal Government were presented for approval in the meeting, according to sources.
PM Khan immediately sought recommendations from the provincial government and the Ministry of Water Resources on the provision of an additional 1200 cusecs of water to Karachi. Resolution of the energy problems of Balochistan, including enhancement of absorption energy, the limited supply of water in Pat Feeder and Kirther Canals, also came under discussion. A decision was made to set up a committee to resolve issues relating to Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) and Workers Welfare Board, which will be comprising representatives from center and provinces, the sources added.
The CCI is a constitutional body that has the specific mandate of resolving inter-provincial and Provincial-Center disagreements/issues and also distributing resources. Mainly the CCI is expected to “formulate and regulate policies in relation to matters in Part II of the Federal Legislative List”. But the body was largely ignored during former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s tenure.
PM Khan who believes in the devolution of power is expected to make the CCI more effective and ensure its effectiveness in resolving all the disagreements between the Centre and the provinces. Unlike Nawaz Sharif, Mr. Khan treated all the chief ministers with equal interest at the PM office and assured all of the CMs that the Centre will always facilitate them in all possible means.
The first meeting of the CCI has given a hope to many observers in Pakistan that PTI-led government will focus on resolving all the outstanding issues of economy and politics in the country without any delay. This was evident in his statement that he wanted all four provinces on the same page, adding that his government wanted to solve the country’s problems through consultations.