Elements involved in corruption, criminal negligence be held accountable: PM

  • Vows govt will perform ‘major surgical operation’ to get rid of deep-rooted flaws in economy
  • Cabinet approves validity of Proof of Registration (PoR) cards for Afghan refugees till June 30

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday said that the elements involved in the deep-rooted menace of corruption and criminal negligence for denting the national economy would be held accountable.

“Lot of work needed to be done as the government will perform ‘major surgical operation’ to get rid of the deep-rooted flaws in the country’s economy,” PM Shehbaz Sharif declared while chairing a meeting of the Cabinet at PM’s House here on Friday.

Referring to the track and trace system agreement made in 2019, the prime minister said this system was nothing but a cruel joke to the nation as no improvement was seen in the tobacco, cement, sugar and fertilizer sectors.

He said the agreement was totally a fraud as even no penalty clause was included in it.

He said that he had ordered the formation of an inquiry committee in this regard that will present its report within 72 hours.

On the occasion, along with other agenda items, the federal cabinet approved the validity of Proof of Registration (PoR) cards for Afghan refugees till June 30 with their repatriation set to begin in the third phase.

The meeting, however, did not announce any date for repatriation of those refugees holding the PoR cards.

There are around 1.3 million registered Afghans still living in Pakistan, according to a spokesman for UN refugee agency UNHCR in Islamabad.

“On the recommendation of the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions, the federal cabinet approved the extension of the validity of PoR cards of Afghan refugees from April 1, 2024, to June 30, 2024,” said an official statement, issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The PoR cardholders will be repatriated in the third phase of the plan that will begin after the repatriation of “illegal foreign nationals” residing in Pakistan is completed, the statement added.

The cabinet members were informed that PoR card holders avail schools, bank accounts and other facilities in Pakistan.

The statement said the first phase of repatriating foreign residents living in Pakistan without any identity documents was in progress.

As regards the macroeconomic indicators, the prime minister expressed satisfaction over the collective performance of both incumbent and the interim governments. He said according to a recently published report on Pakistan economy, many indicators including IT export, remittances, capital market were showing positive results due to the prudent policies of the government.

PM Shehbaz Sharif informed that he completed the power sector review in four phases in which important decisions were taken to minimize power theft and line losses, and to reduce prices of the electricity. Besides, he said the government had also decided in principle to divest the Distribution Companies (DISCOs).

Shehbaz Sharif said the government is also implementing a comprehensive policy and taking steps to reduce electricity theft and lowering its prices.

He said the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had old and obsolete systems which needed to be replaced to increase the tax to GDP ratio. He pointed out that the FBR had the potential to earn extra revenues worth hundreds of billions of rupees by implementing reforms in its system.

“We have to take tough decision in larger interest of the country and we will fully monitor the implementation phase,” the prime minister remarked.

As regards, privatization of the State Owned Entities (SOEs), the prime minister assured that the process would be done without delay and in a transparent manner.

PM Shehbaz said the government was rigorously pursuing the agenda of economic reforms to steer the country out of prevailing challenges.

He said the reports of international financial institutions and journals showing positive and upward trajectory about Pakistan’s economy was a testimony of the prudent policies of the incumbent government.

He said foreign investment from our friendly countries including Saudi Arabia is also increasing which would have positive impact on our economy.

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