Cabinet okays purchase of Covid-19 vaccine

Exempts it from import duty, PPRA rules


Rizwan Shehzad   January 06, 2021
FILE PHOTO: A medic fills a syringe with COVAXIN, an Indian government-backed experimental COVID-19 vaccine, before administering it to a health worker during its trials, at the Gujarat Medical Education and Research Society in Ahmedabad, India, November 26, 2020. REUTERS/Amit Dave/File Photo

ISLAMABAD:

The federal cabinet on Tuesday approved the purchase of Covid-19 vaccine by the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination and exempted it from import duty and the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules.

The cabinet’s approval for the purchase of the vaccine comes nearly a month after it had allocated $150 million for procurement of the coronavirus vaccine. It was also decided in December last that health workers fighting on the frontline and people over 65 years of age would be vaccinated in the first phase.

The official statement issued after the cabinet meeting was silent over the exemption from the PPRA rules as it only said that the decision was taken to save precious human lives in a timely manner.

During the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Health, Dr Faisal Sultan, briefed the cabinet about the recent pandemic situation in the country.

In the cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, members offered prayers for the coal miners who were martyred in the Machh massacre, Osama Satti, who was shot dead by the police in Islamabad, and the martyrs of Pakistan Army.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed apprised the cabinet of his Quetta visit that he undertook on the instructions of the premier and met the Hazara community members. The Hazara community is protesting over the brutal kidnapping and killing of 11 coal miners and has refused to call off their sit-in till the PM visits Quetta.

PM Imran said that the government is using all means to provide justice to the victims of the Machh massacre. On Satti’s murder, he said that such callous people should not be in the police force. Meanwhile, sources said, the premier directed the authorities concerned not to create any hurdles if the opposition parties protest in front of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Addressing the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) public meeting in Bahawalpur on Sunday, JUI-F chief, who is also the president of the 11-party anti-government alliance, had announced that the PDM would hold a protest demonstration in front of the ECP in Islamabad on January 19 against the delay in decision regarding the PTI foreign funding case.

Among other agenda items, the cabinet approved setting up an inspection committee to improve the quality of exports from the fisheries sector in the country.

The committee, comprising representatives from the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Ministry of Commerce and the Pakistan Fisheries Exporters Association, will inspect fish processing plants set up in the country.

Also, the cabinet approved the appointment of the chairman of the Board of Directors for Pakistan Expo Centres Pvt Ltd. It also approved the appointment of members of the Press Council of Pakistan. In addition, it approved the setting up of a special committee to decide appeals under Section 21 of the Trade Organisations Act, 2013.

The cabinet approved the resignation of Dr Rana Abdul Jabbar as CEO of the Alternative Energy Development Board and approved the setting up of a selection committee for the appointment of a new CEO. Lastly, it ratified the decisions taken at the meeting of the Committee on Legal Cases held on December 31, 2020.

Separately, Federal Minister for Law Farogh Naseem and Adviser to the PM on Interior and Accountability Shahzad Akbar called on the PM and discussed legal and constitutional issues and future strategies. The prime minister was briefed in detail on the strategy to ensure speedy disposal of cases in courts.

Briefing the PM about the performance of the law ministry, Naseem said that 99.5% of the cases received by the ministry were disposed of and more than 100 cases were being disposed of on a daily basis.

Also, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shah Farman and Saifullah Khan Niazi called on the PM and discussed in detail the political situation in the country and future strategies. They also discussed the Kashmir issue as well as the Senate elections and by-polls.

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