The federal cabinet on Tuesday approved the conducting of a new census on a “de jour” basis with the help of modern technology, providing the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) six months before the 2023 general elections for the delimitation exercise.
Among other crucial decisions, the cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, also agreed to call a joint session of parliament for dealing with the electoral reforms’ agenda and decided to give relief to electricity consumers in winter.
In a press briefing, Federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the cabinet had given the nod to the new census, which will be conducted on the basis of de jour instead of the “de facto” method.
In the de facto method, the minister explained, the enumeration of individuals was conducted as of where they were found in the census, regardless of where they normally resided.
However, he added, the enumeration of individuals as of where they usually resided, regardless of where they were on the census day, was conducted in the de jure method.
Fawad said the one-year period of stay at a particular place is referred to as de jour and most countries follow this method, adding that modern technology and devices, including the use of tablets, would be utilised in the census for the first time in the history of the country.
“Assistance from NADRA [National Database and Registration Authority] and other institutions would also be sought to complete the task.”
The minister said once the census was completed, the last six months before the elections would be given to the ECP for fresh delimitation, if needed.
Commenting on the Pandora Papers, the minister said a high-level cell formed under the Prime Minister's Inspection Commission had been tasked to investigate the 700 Pakistanis named in the new leaks.
The cell would also ascertain whether or not the offshore companies named in the Pandora Papers were illegal or involved in money laundering.
Fawad said individuals would be categorised into four groups: those who had declared their offshore companies in Pakistan; the people who had not declared their companies and evaded paying taxes; the ones who used their companies for money laundering; and individuals who had not shown their offshore companies while declaring their wealth.
“Criminal proceedings will start after that,” he said, adding that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) would take action against all those found guilty of committing any unlawful act.
The minister surprised everyone when he said the PTI-led government had already provided more than 10 million jobs in the country as promised in its manifesto.
Fawad added that the Punjab Health Department had alone given 40,000 jobs and roughly 1,650,000 people had gone abroad, adding that he would provide a list of the total number of people employed by different departments.
“More than 10 million jobs have been provided in the last three years,” he announced at the end of the press briefing.
After the briefing, he told reporters that he was referring to the overall jobs created by the government and private sector together. He clarified that he did not mean the 10 million jobs had been given in government departments.
The minister also said the cabinet had approved an electricity package, whereby all consumers, who would completely shift from using gas to electricity in the winter, would get a discount of up to Rs7 per unit in their power bills.
Energy Minister Hammad Azhar later tweeted that any additional electricity consumed by domestic and commercial consumers from November to February against same period in the previous year would have a discount of Rs5 to 7 per unit.
Fawad said a three-member committee including himself, Communications and Postal Services Minister Murad Saeed and Energy Minister Hammad had been formed to examine the contracts for the power and road infrastructure projects signed by the previous governments on inflated rates and identify the beneficiaries.
The committee would present its report to the cabinet, which would decide further action against the “culprits”.
The minister said electoral reforms had become a routine agenda of the cabinet, which started its proceedings with a discussion on the introduction of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and e-voting in elections.
He said Adviser to the PM on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan told the cabinet that serious efforts were being made to hold a discussion with the opposition on electoral reforms, but in vain.
“Therefore, the government has decided to call a joint session of parliament while keeping the door for negotiations with the opposition open,” Fawad added.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ