$150m allocated to procure Covid vaccine
Federal cabinet approves reduction in injection price to treat virus
The federal cabinet on Tuesday approved allocating $150 million to procure coronavirus vaccine and reducing the cost of injections needed to treat the virus.
With the announced reduction, a 100mg injection of Remdesivir will now cost Rs5,680 instead of Rs9,244.
The cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, also decided that health workers fighting on the frontline and people over 65 years of age would be vaccinated in the first phase.
The premier directed that timely procurement and availability of the coronavirus vaccine “must be ensured at all cost”.
The prime minister lamented that the highest number of deaths in a single day due to coronavirus were recorded on November 30.
“Holding rallies in such a situation is tantamount to playing with the lives of the people,” the premier said. Referring to the current situation of the pandemic, the prime minister said that “the country needs serious decisions and attitudes at this time”.
The prime minister, while referring to a decision of the Islamabad High Court that ruled that the implementation of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) decisions was mandatory in the event of a coronavirus crisis, said “holding rallies was a violation of the court order”.
Due to the pandemic, the prime minister said, health department officials and hospitals were under extreme pressure. “We must all work together to stop the spread of the pandemic.”
Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz in his post-cabinet news briefing said that the government would not stop public from participating in the upcoming political gathering of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) in Lahore.
“However, action will be taken against those who instigated people to violate health guidelines,” said the minister. He was flanked by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Faisal Sultan.
Referring to the countrywide rallies of the PDM, the information minister said the government would lodge first information reports (FIRs) against organisers of the public meetings and leaders of political parties for violating the coronavirus-related standard operating procedures (SOPs) and guidelines.
“When something illegal is done, a case should be registered. The opposition is acting illegally by holding public meetings and they should be held accountable,” the government spokesperson said.
Faraz said public gatherings amid a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic not only posed grave threat to the lives of the people, but were also a “sheer violation of the court order that imposed a ban on such activities”.
Moving on to other agenda items, the cabinet endorsed the decisions taken at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Legislative cases on November 26, 2020.
PM Imran said that no leniency should be shown to the perpetrators of heinous crimes like rape, adding the strictest punishment was necessary to prevent abuse against women and children.
During the meeting, the cabinet was given a detailed briefing on two major projects being undertaken by the government -- Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project and Bundle Island.
The cabinet was told that the Ravi project will be completed with the participation of the private sector and no government assistance or loan will be taken.
In addition, it was told, billions of dollars were expected to be invested in the project and planting of 10 million trees was also part of the project.
On the Bundle Island project, the cabinet was informed that the project was expected to generate about $50 billion of foreign investment and a memorandum of understanding on 1.3 billion dollars’ foreign investment has already been signed for the project.
The prime minister said both the projects were essential to earn valuable foreign exchange and provide employment to people, adding that the Bundle Island project would help protect mangroves and control water pollution.
“The project would provide employment opportunities to the people of Sindh while fishermen would benefit from better livelihoods,” Imran said, and added, “Overseas Pakistanis are interested in investing in the projects.”
On the agenda item pertaining to the Islamabad Metropolitan Club, the cabinet formed a six-member committee of the cabinet regarding handing over of the building to the Federal Ministry of Education and Vocational Training and to set up the Islamabad Campus of the National College of Arts in it.
The prime minister has sought recommendations at the next meeting.
While ratifying different decisions taken by different cabinet committees, PM Imran said all decisions should be taken on merit as violation of merit leads to people’s suffering.
The prime minister emphasised that uninterrupted availability of gas should be ensured for domestic consumers and export-oriented industries.
He also directed that a mechanism be devised to provide advance information to industries about the gas supply situation for the whole year.
Meanwhile, no decision was taken on the agenda item pertaining to severing diplomatic ties with France and whether it should officially issue directions to boycott French products in Pakistani markets over the recent publication of blasphemous cartoons.
Among other decisions, the cabinet approved terminating the services of the Pakistan Steel Mills. It also allowed the Aviation Division to renew the regular public transport licence of AirSial (Pvt) Ltd.