Govt in process of introducing automated electoral system: Fawad

Says system will help address concerns in future elections; briefs media about decisions taken in cabinet meeting


News Desk March 16, 2021
Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry addressing a press conference at the PID in Islamabad on March 16, 2021. SCREENGRAB

ISLAMABAD:

Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said on Tuesday that the government was in the process of making the electoral system fully automated.

"We are working on shifting the electoral system from manual to a fully automatic one," the minister said during a media briefing held following a cabinet meeting held in Islamabad today, with Prime Minister Imran Khan in chair.

Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar also accompanied the Minister for Technology at the presser.

"This will help address the concerns of political parties in general," he added.

Also read: PM Imran calls for introducing track, trace system to curtail tax evasion

Referring to the opposition as "political orphans", Fawad said they won't accept any decision. "We are only making these efforts to raise the awareness level of the masses."

The minister reiterated that PM Imran has been making efforts since the beginning to introduce reforms in the electoral process and make it transparent.

"The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is based on accountability and transparent elections," he remarked.

Covid third wave

Fawad further said that the cabinet discussed and expressed concerns over the current third wave of Covid-19, dominated by the UK variant.

"We will continue to work on the strategy that we earlier put in place to deal with the first two waves," he maintained.

Due to the government's successful strategy against the pandemic, Pakistan has been at a lesser loss as compared to the rest of the world, he added.

"The government took safety measures at the airports at the beginning of the pandemic in February, besides other steps," the minister observed.

Also read: Pakistan reports over 2,500 new COVID cases

"Consequently, we remained in a safer zone in terms of the economy and the loss of lives," he added.

Economic indicators

Speaking of the country's economic situation, Fawad said, "Pakistan's current account deficit is now in surplus, while rupee is gaining strength against dollar. Moreover, Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), which had previously become almost negligible were on the rise now," the minister said.

With the IMF programme revived, the country is now able to make its payments on time, he maintained.

"We can see an enthusiasm among exporters as new avenues are opening up and a growth of nine percent is being witnessed in the sector," Fawad observed.

This will generate more employment opportunities, bring stability, and keep the country's economic wheel moving, he added.

However, the minister observed that the one of the biggest challenges for the prime minister is to overcome poverty.

Also read: PM Imran terms food security Pakistan's biggest challenge

"The decision to announce a Rs8 billion package was part of the same efforts," he added. "Utility stores that had been destroyed are set to overcome the deficit and even generate some profit," he said.

PDM huddle

Commenting on the ongoing huddle of the political arch-rivals, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), the minister said, “The huddle is divided on the next course of action to take against the government.”

“While some of them are calling for resignations, others want a long march and similar agitations,” he stated.

Fawad said he believed that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), being aware of the consequences of such actions, will abstain from the same.

“Those who are calling for resignations seem unaware that the parties do not have the adequate representation [to take such adverse measures].”

Public enterprises

The cabinet was apprised that 51 of the state owned enterprises are now generating profit. “The premier approved conducting forensic audits of institutions including railways, SSGC, and electricity supplying companies until June this year.

Fawad informed that the cabinet also decided on measures to improve the internal financial system of different institutions.

Also read: PTI demanding ECP to resign to evade foreign funding verdict: Abbasi

“It has also been decided to adopt and implement a comprehensive policy on arms licenses,” he added

Afghan refugees

“The PM wants to resolve the issue of Afghan refugees and make things easier for them,” the minister added.

The government, he said, wants to bring the refugees under a comprehensive registration system.

Ramazan package

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar informed that the government has decided to offer subsidies on 19 edible essentials - previously five.

“Under the Ramazan package, the prices of commodities will be reduced,” he maintained. Azhar added that provinces, especially Sindh, should also offer facilities related to Ramazan to the public.

Large scale manufacturing

Azhar said that a growth of 9.1 per cent has been seen in large scale manufacturing, with a cumulative growth of 7.8 per cent.

“Pakistan’s industries are nearing their full capacity, which is a good omen!”

He added that the progress will help improve previous economic indicators. “It projects a constant, continuous growth,” he assured.

He further informed that the government has decided to run urea plants to increase supply and reduce imports.

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