–Fawad says 25,000 housing units will be built in Islamabad for federal govt employees, 110,000 in Balochistan
–Says special town will be built for fishermen of Gwadar
—Says govt in talks with IMF over new amnesty scheme
–Train station is being established at Nankana Sahib in name of Baba Guru Nanak
ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday decided to kick start the Naya Pakistan Housing Authority project with the construction of 135,000 apartments.
Briefing journalists about the decisions taken in the federal cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan earlier in the day, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that PM Imran will launch the project on April 17 in Islamabad where 25,000 apartments will be built for federal government employees.
The prime minister had promised to build five million houses in an October 2018 launch ceremony of the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme.
“The remaining 110,000 apartments will be built in Balochistan,” Fawad said, adding that the project includes a housing society for fishermen in Gwadar.
“For the first time, fishermen will have a roof over their heads and they will be given modern accommodation,” the information minister announced.
The information minister informed the media that the cabinet had also approved the establishment of a state-of-the-art media university with the aim of providing modern technological training to future media professionals. “This university will be of great significance as currently, the media industry is lagging behind technologically,” he said.
Fawad also informed that the new media university would basically be formed via a merger of the academies of state assets, including Pakistan Television, Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation and Information Service. He said that he may soon visit China to seek professional cooperation for the media university. “We have already discussed the project with Chinese firms ZTE and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and we intend to bring some US firms on board as well,” he said.
He said that the government intends to build the university on the public-private-partnership model and no funds from the public sector would be spent on it.
Talking about the ongoing talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the information minister said that Finance Minister Asad Umar had reached the US to hold talks with IMF for a bailout package.
He said that the foreign minister would also discuss the Asset Declaration Scheme with IMF officials.
PM Imran on Monday approved another amnesty scheme in the hopes of pulling Rs250 billion in taxes. The scheme is designed to cater to the holders of anonymous accounts and assets as it gives them an opportunity to whiten their black money by paying 10 per cent tax.
Fawad also talked about a crackdown against the big fish involved in gas and electricity theft. “Through effective measures, the government has successfully prevented the theft of Rs40 billion worth of electricity,” he said.
He said that cases have also been registered against those involved in gas and electricity theft. “Rs3 billion worth gas has been stolen in the past three years. 43 per cent gas produced in the country is usually stolen and Karak district is the worst example of this as 93 per cent gas used there is unaccounted for,” he said.
He said that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Rohail Asghar’s gas bill had gone up from mere Rs1,200 to over Rs10 million, which shows massive theft of the commodity.
Talking about other decisions taken during the cabinet meeting, the information minister said that a train station is being established at Nankana Sahib in the name of Baba Guru Nanak. He said that the cabinet had also told all government departments to use Pakistan Post for official communication. Fawad said that a grant of 94 million Euros from Germany had also been approved to be utilised for the provision of clean drinking water to the residents of Faisalabad.
Fawad also lashed out at the opposition leaders over alleged money laundering. He said that details of corruption were coming to fore from Punjab. “It has been confirmed that the Hudaibiya pattern of money laundering had been used by Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari who are the central characters of the money laundering system in the country. There are dozens of secondary characters as well who have been working as their front-end,” he said.
He said that from 1947 to 2008, Pakistan’s total debt stood at $37 billion but in the past ten years, the debt had increased to a shocking figure of $97 billion. He said that during the past ten years, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and PPP had added an additional $60 billion to the foreign debt. “Where has all this money gone?” Fawad asked. He said that the $37 billion taken until 2008 had been used for Pakistan’s development while $60 billion had been divided among the corrupt rulers.