Cabinet defers approval of new hajj policy


Zia Khan May 12, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Wednesday deferred approval of the new hajj policy as it failed to evolve a consensus on whether or not to allow Rs15,000 raise in fares demanded by the Pakistan International Airline (PIA).

Presided over by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, the cabinet constituted a committee to look into the prospects of introducing a bill to give the policy a legal cover. Federal Law Minister Dr Babar Awan will head the committee which has been tasked to evaluate the legal implications of steps the government intends to take to provide “economical and decent rented accommodation” to intending pilgrims. The policy was submitted to the cabinet by the religious affairs ministry.

The cabinet failed to evolve a consensus on PIA’s demand for an increase in fares. “That is why the matter was deferred,” one of the meeting participants told The Express Tribune. The cabinet is likely to approve the policy in its next sitting. The religious affairs ministry opposed PIA’s demand, saying that huge increase in fares would have a strong backlash. The ministry said the new policy would be based on the principle of transparency, says a statement issued after the meeting. The cabinet also constituted another committee to finalise matters related to two separate bills about the functioning of financial institutions.

One of them aims at allowing trade union activities in commercial banks. The State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2010 and the SBP Banking Services Corporation Ordinance (Repeal) Bill, 2010 will be evaluated by a three-member panel headed by the prime minister’s adviser Raza Rabbani. The two other members of the committee are the prime minister’s finance adviser Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and Privatisation Minister Waqar Ahmed Khan. The cabinet also discussed amendments to the Provincial Employees’ Social Security – Ordinance, 1965 and referred it to the commission supervising implementation of the 18th amendment.

Draft for the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electricity Power (Amendment) Bill, 2010 also came up for discussion in the meeting. The cabinet observed that unnecessary delays in processing and finalisation of matters should be avoided as far as possible. The cabinet constituted a committee, to be headed by the law minister, to finalise matters related to the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra).

Published in the Express Tribune, May 13th, 2010.

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