Differences among the provinces on the issue of notifying Census-2017 results persisted, as the Council of Common Interests (CCI) decided on Wednesday to convene a virtual meeting on Monday to take the final decision in this regard.
The CCI – a constitutional forum to discuss and decide matters between the federation and provinces – held its 44th meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair. It was attended by all the four chief ministers and relevant federal ministers.
During its four-hour meeting the forum held detailed discussion on the issue of notifying the Census-2017 results. However, it was decided that a virtual meeting would be held on Monday to take the final decision in this regard.
Earlier, during the discussion, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa pressed for the release of the census data. However, Sindh demanded that the release of census results be linked to the new census. Balochistan on the other hand, sought time on the matter.
On other agenda items, the CCI decided to establish the permanent secretariat of the forum to meet the long overdue constitutional requirement under the Article 154(3). A report on the implementation of earlier CCI decisions was also presented at the meeting.
The meeting the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority’s (Nepra) Annual Report 2019-20 and State of Industry Report 2020. Amendments to the Petroleum (Research and Production) Policy 2012 were also approved.
Nepra informed the meeting that 3,800 megawatt (MW) additional power would be provided to end load shedding in Sindh. Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal demanded setting up of another power distribution company in the province in view of the growing population.
On the issue of import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and implementation of articles 158 and 172(3) of the Constitution, it was decided to constitute a committee comprising of ministers for planning and energy, and special assistant to prime minister on power and petroleum.
The committee will hold consultations with the provinces in order to evolve a consensus on the way forward in meeting the challenge of dwindling local gas reserves and increasing domestic gas requirements.
In order to improve ease of doing business, and harmonisation of quality and standards across the country, it was decided that the provinces would notify harmonised standards set by the Pakistan Standard and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) by repealing their own standards.
The meeting decided that the Higher Education Commission would be the sole standard-setting national organisation with regards to higher education in the country. The HEC would strengthen its regional centres for better representation and coordination with the provinces.
On the distribution of Zakat funds, the meeting decided that after the merger of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Zakat funds for the former tribal areas, would be transferred to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for distribution in the merged districts.
The CCI meeting was attended by chief ministers Usman Buzdar of Punjab, Murad Shah of Sindh, Mahmood Khan of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Jam Kamal Khan of Balochistan, besides federal ministers and the relevant senior officials.