ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday gave the nod to form the Naya Pakistan Housing Authority which will be responsible to undertake the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government's ambitious plan to build 135,000 housing units across the country.
"Prime Minister Imran Khan would inaugurate the project first in Islamabad where 25,000 houses would be constructed and then in Balochistan where 110,000 units would be made," Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said while briefing media on decisions taken in the cabinet meeting chaired by the PM.
"For Gwadar fishermen, a special town would be built under the scheme," he added. The authority announced on October 10, 2018 aims at constructing five million houses for the low income segments of society during the next five years.
At time of its announcement, the PM had hoped that the successful implementation of the programme would not only boost the country's economy but also create immense job opportunities.
The government would provide land for the project and play the role of a regulator and facilitator to address bottlenecks to provide an enabling environment through the one-window facilitation centre for public and private sectors and non-profit organisations who would execute the project.
Same pattern of corruption
Chaundry said the cabinet also approved an agreement with the UAE with regard to sharing of financial information. He said corruption details from Punjab are coming to fore and it has been confirmed that Hudabiya [Papers Mills] pattern of money laundering has been used by [PML-N leaders] Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif and [the Pakistan Peosples Party Co-Chairman] Asif Ali Zardari.
"[The politicians are allegedly] the central characters of money laundering while there are dozens of secondary characters working as their front men," the information minister claimed.
He reiterated that from 1947 to 2008, Pakistan's total foreign loan stood at $37 billion but from 2008 to 2018, in ten years the foreign loan crossed a whopping figure of $97 billion. He said during the ten years of the PPP and PML-N rule, additional $60 billion were added to the foreign loan.
"The question is where all that money has gone?"
"The first $37 billion were used to build mega projects; whereas $60 billion loan taken during 2008 to 2018, the former ruler divided the money among themselves," he alleged.
He said both the former rulers used the Hudabiya model of fraud. "The plundered money was sent abroad through Hundi and Hawala and several fake accounts were used for this purpose," he said.
He said the cabinet also gave approval to a proposal for building a media university in Pakistan. He said the objective behind establishment of state-of-the-art university is to give modern technological training to the future media professionals "as presently, we are lagging behind in technology."
Chaudhry said the media university was being set up with merger of existing academies of the Pakistan Television, the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation and the Information Service.
"Media technology, digital media, cinematography, and other modern media techniques would be taught at this university. I may visit China soon to seek professional cooperation for the university which is a flagship project of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting," he added.
He said he had discussed the project with Chinese firms ZTE and Huawei Technologies and would also take the United States firms on board. "The government is planning to build this university on Public Private Partnership model and no funds from public sector would be spent on it."
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Gas, electricity theft
Chaudhry said the PM has also directed a crackdown against big fish involved in theft of electricity and gas. Theft of electricity worth Rs40 billion has been prevented due to effective measures taken by the present government and cases have been registered against those involved in gas and electricity theft.
He said gas worth Rs3 billion had been stolen in the last three years. Forty three (43) per cent gas produced in Pakistan is stolen and Karak district is the worst example where 93 per cent gas is unaccounted for while 41 per cent gas in Balochistan is also unaccounted for.
He cited example of the rival Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Sheikh Rohail Asghar's gas bill jumped up from Rs1,200 rupees per month to over Rs10 million after anti-theft measures.
He said Finance Minister Asad Umar had reached the US to hold talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in connection with the bailout package. "Umar would also discuss the Asset Declaration Scheme with IMF officials."
Guru Nanak station
The minister said a train station is being established at Nankana Sahib after the name of founder of Sikh religion Baba Guru Nanak. The cabinet has also decided to bind all government departments to use the Pakistan Post for official communication.
Chaudhry said a grant of 94 million Euros from Germany is also approved to be utilized for the provision of clean drinking water to the residents of Faisalabad.
WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP