–Firdous stresses need for national unity to eradicate coronavirus from the country
ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Wednesday called for national unity to counter coronavirus outbreak in the country, which has so far infected over 1,000 people in different provinces.
The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan and discussed agenda items and other important issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the current financial situation.
During the meeting, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous said Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi apprised the premier that his statement regarding lifting of international sanctions from Iran was not only being appreciated by the Iranians but the International Court of Justice (ICJ) had also endorsed this suggestion.
Later, briefing the media about the cabinet’s decision, Dr Firdous said that the leading role played by PM Imran in shaking the world’s conscience and raising voice in support of Iran after the coronavirus outbreak there is being admired at every level.
She said that the debt relief programme proposed by the PM and his efforts to take up the idea at international fora, including South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and Group of 77, was also getting acknowledgment globally.
The SAPM said that the cabinet underlined the need for engaging youth and overseas Pakistanis in the government efforts to effectively combat the COVID-19.
She said that a volunteers’ task force would be formed to guide the youth in assisting destitute and elderly to fight the coronavirus pandemic. “A structure and roadmap for the task force will be announced shortly,” she said.
Dr Firdous said that the overseas Pakistan were such an asset of the country because they had always stood by the nation in testing times.
The prime minister, she said, has decided to set up an international fund for the coronavirus. Accordingly, a roadmap would be prepared in due course of time, she added.
Dr Firdous said that the cabinet deferred the first agenda related to the Ministry of Energy (Power Division) and directed to present it in the next meeting.
Regarding the decisions made by it on March 12, the cabinet directed for circulating the minutes in the next meeting, she added.
The SAPM said that the cabinet unanimously approved tax exemption on the payment of profit on foreign commercial loans after a briefing from the Ministry of Finance. It also accorded approval for the reorganization of SME Banks’ board, she added.
Dr Firdous said that the cabinet also gave approval to the appointment of the chief executive officer (CEO) of the National Ignite Technology Fund for three months, and directed the Ministry of Information and Technology to appoint CEOs of its attached departments as soon as possible.
She said that the cabinet held a detailed discussion on the National Electric Vehicle Policy and directed that the matter might be discussed by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) and after consultation with all the relevant ministries resubmitted for approval.
Moreover, on the request of the National History and Literary Heritage Division, the cabinet approved change of its name to the National Heritage and Culture Division, she added.
She further said that the cabinet decided to lease of the Evacuee Trust Property Board’s (ETPB) land situated in the Larkana district at the rate of Rs4,500 per acre.
Dr Firdous said that the current account deficit reduced by 31 per cent, trade balance improved by 34 per cent, foreign remittances increased by 5.4 per cent ($15.1 billion), and the prices of essential items registered significant decrease.
She said that national harmony was needed at the time so as to curb the coronavirus contagion through concerted efforts. All the political parties should register their suggestions regarding containing of the coronavirus at the forum of the parliament and the Prime Minister’s Office, the SAPM added.
The political parties, she said, should also realise their obligation to mobilise the entire nation in the fight against the pandemic. All the stakeholders should play their due role under the leadership of PM Imran in rooting out the menace from the country.