–Fawad says balance of payments no longer an issue after China visit
ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Thursday approved an agreement pertaining to the exchange of prisoners with the United Kingdom and Ireland, as Prime Minister Imran Khan briefed his cabinet of ministers on his “successful” visits to Saudi Arabia and China and other issues of national importance.
In October, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar had met British Home Secretary Sajid Javid in London to discuss issues related to the provision of mutual legal assistance, extradition requests, prisoner transfer agreement and steps to curb money laundering as well as recovery of assets acquired through illegal means.
PM Khan also took the cabinet into confidence over the decisions taken by the National Security Committee. The cabinet approved a 21-point agenda and reviewed the implementation of decisions taken during cabinet meetings in the past.
The federal cabinet also gave the green signal to a two-way agreement to promote diplomatic relations with Nigeria.
The federal cabinet also gave a go-ahead to the appointment of a chairman at the Trading Corporation of Pakistan and sanctioned the issuance of a charter license to new airline Liberty Air Ltd. While approving the interior ministry’s appeal to take suspicious persons into custody, the cabinet gave approval for protective custody of Rasool Khan, Waseem Akhtar, Abbas Hafeez, Mohammad Mushtaq and Sajjad Ali Mohra.
PM Khan also briefed the members about his visit to China and the agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoU) signed between the two countries. PM Khan said that the visits to China and Saudi Arabia were successful and quite conducive for dealing with the balance of payments crisis.
During the meeting, Finance Minister Asad Umar also gave a briefing on the agreements signed with China.
PM Khan also approved a summary empowering the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to issue a tax directory. The bureau will publish a separate tax directory for members of the parliament.
The cabinet approved a Pakistan-Sri Lanka Coastguard Agreement and also endorsed the decisions taken by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC).
The meeting also reviewed the law and order situation in the country. Interior Minister Shehryar Afridi briefed the cabinet on the losses incurred during the three-day long countrywide protests in the wake of the Supreme Court’s (SC) acquittal of Aasia Bibi.
‘BALANCE OF PAYMENTS NO LONGER A PROBLEM’:
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday said that PM Khan’s China visit was highly successful as several agreements and MoUs were signed between the two countries.
Briefing the media about the federal cabinet’s Thursday meeting, he said that following this visit Pakistan would be able to handle the balance of payments issue.
Giving details of the decisions of the cabinet, Fawad said that the cabinet approved revamping of the Evacuees Trust Property Board (ETPB) to improve its functioning and better utilisation of its properties. He said that Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera had been appointed Investment Board secretary. He said that a new board of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) would be constituted. The information minister said that the cabinet had decided that a committee comprising experts would be constituted to formulate policy on taxation to fulfil the longstanding demand of the business community.
Replying to questions of journalists, he said that the opposition wanted that the government should not pursue corruption cases against its leaders, but no such concession would be given to them. He said it was unfortunate that in the past, government and opposition had collusion and they looted and plundered the country turn by turn.
On the issue of appointment of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman, he said that the deadlock still persists as Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) demand to appoint Shehbaz Sharif its head to hold an audit of projects during the tenure of his brother Nawaz Sharif was illogical. He said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was of the view that for an audit of the projects undertaken during former premier Nawaz’s tenure, a PTI member should be made the chairman of PAC and for projects of incumbent government tenure’s, Shehbaz could be named as its head.
The information minister said that a piece of news by a section of media about the so-called departure of Aasia Bibi to a foreign country was the worst example of irresponsible journalism. He said that the newspapers acted irresponsibly on a very serious issue. Fawad said that a review petition was pending in SC in Aasia Bibi case and the apex court was the competent authority to take a decision on this legal and constitutional matter.
About the change in accountability laws, he said that a task force was working under Law Minister Farough Naseem and it would soon present its proposals.