Dispelling the impression that the local government (LG) system initiated by former president Pervez Musharraf was reintroduced in select areas of Sindh, Information Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan clarified that it would be extended to the entire province after some amendments.
“There are some lacunas in the local government ordinance 2001 which is why we have to revise it before extending its ambit to the entire province,” stated the information minister while addressing a press conference. Ministers from Sindh had not reacted over the reintroduction of the LG system in Sindh, she said in reply to a question, since PM Yousuf Raza Gilani had taken them into confidence. Meanwhile, Awami National Party (ANP), a coalition partner of the ruling PPP, staged another walkout from the National Assembly against the revival of the LG system in Sindh. Awan said the PM discussed the law and order situation in Karachi and expressed great concern. He has urged all political parties to play their role in maintaining law and order in the metropolis.
Responding to a question on the creation of a Seraiki province, she said it had become a burning issue due to the deprivation of the people, but a decision can only be taken after consultation with stakeholders and examining legal and constitutional aspects. Awan said that the PM has decided to take appropriate steps to cut down on load-shedding. “A total of Rs1 trillion has been invested in the energy sector.” The PM had constituted a high-powered committee headed by the finance minister, comprising ministers for water and power, petroleum and natural resources, deputy chairman planning commission, and acting governor State Bank to examine the energy shortfall.
Briefing the media on the cabinet meeting, Awan said that a bailout package of Rs11 billion has been approved for the Railways of which Rs6 billion will be spent on the purchase of new locomotives and Rs5 billion on upgrading railways. The PM has asked for an improvement in the performance and state of
the railway ministry and hoped that the ministry would be able to get the trains back on track to facilitate travel for people for Eid.
Awan said the finance secretary briefed the cabinet on the consumer price index and trends in prices of essential items in the country and presented a price comparison with other regions. Provincial governments have been asked to gear up their enforcement mechanisms to control prices, she added. The PM also directed the minister for industries to ensure an adequate supply of food items in utility stores. He has asked that the utility stores network be extended to FATA and Balochistan.
The PM took the cabinet into confidence regarding his talks with King Abdullah during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, the focus of which he said was the reactivation of bilateral cooperation with the kingdom in the fields of science, defence, defence production, trade and commerce. PM Gilani said that he also apprised the Saudi king about Pakistan’s efforts to cultivate excellent relations with neighboring countries including India and Afghanistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2011.