Declaration of assets step towards documentation of economy: Dr Firdous

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ISLAMABAD, May 14 (APP): Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan Tuesday said the ordinance on declaration of assets would be issued by the President as part of government’s efforts to document the economy and generate taxes from privileged sections of society.

She was briefing about decisions of the cabinet, during a press conference here along with Minister for Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, State Minister for Finance Hammad Azhar and Chairman Federal Board of Revenue Shabbar Zaidi.

Dr Firdous said the cabinet renewed the license of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), approved Board of Directors of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC), ratified Pakistan’s trade agreement with Algeria, approved exemptions  for assets belonging to institutions of Benevolent Fund and Group Insurance.

The Special Assistant told that the cabinet considered the strategy to keep daily use items prices in check by curtailing role of middlemen through system of magistrates and market price committees.

She said media would be informed in a briefing about the steps taken by the government to provide cheap and quality medicines by bringing reforms in Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP).

The cabinet was briefed about Consumer Price Index and it was decided that action would be further intensified against marketers and profiteers and availability of 19 essential items at Utility Stores and Saasta bazaars would be ensured. Prime Minister Imran Khan instructed Minister of Industry and Chairman Utility Stores Corporation to show zero tolerance towards those involved in price hikes, she added.

Dr Firdous told that the committee also took decisions on the method to appointment chairman of Pakistan Academy of Letters. The cabinet was informed about the financial assistance of Rs 260 million by China for narcotics control measures.

The cabinet also discussed formulation of a proper mechanism to provide legal assistance to prisoners held in jails in other countries. Prime Minister had arranged for funds for immediate repatriation of Pakistanis imprisoned in Malaysia.

She said the government was striving to protect rights of people, adding the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan was to move towards reforms.

Dr Firdous said when the economy of Pakistan was shifted away from ventilator in Intensive Care Unit to normalcy, careless decisions were taken in the past and the economic situation again deteriorated.

She said if fiscal discipline would be maintained there would be no need for a package from International Monetary Fund (IMF) in future.

The Special Assistant said the commitment of team of Imran Khan was to keep financial discipline, maintain a regulatory mechanism and take the economy towards documentation.

She said the cabinet discussed an 18-point agenda, adding focus of the Prime Minister was to resolve issues and difficulties of public and provide them benefit through policies of the government.

She said Attorney General informed the cabinet about the international litigation involving Pakistan.

Billions of rupees were spent on payments of fees of lawyers in international litigation in courts as the previous governments did not thought about national interest and about the repercussions of the agreements signed by them, she added.

Dr Firdous told that in 2016, six cases of the country were in international courts which rose to 45 in 2019. The main cases were of Reqo Dik, Karakey ship, Hyderabad fund, Kulbhushan Yadav and Samjotha Express train. In the last five years, lawyers were paid $100 million and $10 million were required to be paid as legal fees this month and afterwards. The country paid the price after the courts struck down the international agreements, she noted.

She said the Prime Minister directed the ministries which usually sign agreements at international level to adopt a mechanism of legal consultation to look into all aspects to avoid problems in future.

 

VNS Islamabad