Cabinet approves 1.2bn riyal deal with Saudi Arabia | Pakistan Today

Cabinet approves 1.2bn riyal deal with Saudi Arabia

–Fawad says eight MoUs would be inked during Saudi crown prince’s visit

–Says all expenses of prince’s entourage visits were being borne by the kingdom

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Thursday reportedly granted approval for multiple agreements in water and power sectors with Saudi Arabia.

As the meeting commenced, a summary for 1.2 billion riyal memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Saudi Fund for Development was presented before the cabinet. Reportedly, under the agreement, Diamer-Bhasha Dam would receive Rs 3.77 million riyals, Mohmand Dam would receive 300 million riyals, Shounter Hydropower Project would receive 240 million riyals, Jamshoro Power Project would receive 153.7 million riyals and Jagran Hydropower Project would receive 131.2 million riyals.

Talking to the media after the cabinet meeting, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said that the upcoming visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on February 16 and 17 would prove a game changer, besides opening vistas of opportunities for the country. He said that it would prove to be a milestone in numerous achievements of Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf (PTI) government at the foreign policy front during the past six months. He said that Pakistan had posted significant achievements in attracting foreign investments during the last six months and it had attracted the Saudi investment which was the largest foreign investment during the last ten years.

He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan and his cabinet would welcome the Saudi crown prince, who would be presented a 21-gun salute. He would hold meetings with the prime minister and the president, besides attending a number of other meetings. He said that an MoU will also be signed for setting up an $8 billion oil refinery in Gwadar.

The crown prince will be visiting the country with a delegation of members of the royal family, businessmen and ministers, on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s invitation. The crown prince’s visit will be instrumental in Pak-Saudi ties because 8 MoUs related to multiple sectors, including finance, power, renewable energy, internal security, media, culture and sports will be signed. On Wednesday, the Saudi cabinet granted the kingdom’s minister of energy, industry and mineral resources the authority to sign MoUs with Pakistani officials in multiple sectors.

He said that the easing of visas facilities for Saudi investors would prove to be helpful in attracting tourists from Saudi Arabia and boosting the industry in the country.

Responding to a question, he said that no luxury vehicles had been hired by the government and the news spread on the social media was incorrect. The visit of the Saudi crown prince would not burden the national exchequer as expenditures of the crown prince’s entourage visits were being borne by Saudi Arabia, he added.

Fawad informed the media that 440 decisions have been made by the federal cabinet in 26 meetings during the past six months, out of which, 243 decisions have been implemented whereas 43 are yet to take effect. He said that in Thursday’s meeting, the federal cabinet had decided that gas would be provided to industrial zones which do not have gas and power supply. “There is a lot of investment taking place in Pakistan and more foreign investors will be coming in. When they do, we must be ready,” he said.

He also said that Zafar Usmani has been appointed as the new chairman of Pakistan State Oil’s (PSO) board of directors, Adnan Ghani as the chairman of Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited and Naseer Khan Kashani as the chairman of Gwadar Port Authority.

The information minister said that the cabinet had also discussed revamping State Life Insurance by bringing in “essential reforms”. He said that the cabinet was also briefed about Supreme Court’s (SC) decision of handing over the control of Lahore’s Shaikh Zayed Hospital and others, including Karachi’s Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) to the federal government. Other than this, the cabinet also approved the formation of a reform board for Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) and subsequently formed a cabinet committee to address the water payment issue with respect to Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

The cabinet also approved the draft proposal for the merger of the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

Fawad also said that the cabinet also deliberated the National Anti-Narcotics Police 2018 which was presented in the meeting on Thursday.

Fawad further said that Pakistan had once again become a key player in the Middle East politics and its reconciliatory role has been recognised. “Pakistan is making sincere efforts to bridge the differences between various brotherly Muslim countries,” he said. The negotiations with the Taliban would prove a game changer event in Islamabad, and likely to bring stability in the region and the country which would help attract investments, he added.

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