Cabinet decides to give talks with Taliban yet another try

*Nawaz says $1.6 billion will be spent for Balochistan development * Cabinet approves tariff of $0.66/mmbtu for Qatar LNG project
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ISLAMABAD: Amid much opposition and criticism, the federal government has once again decided to give peace yet another chance as far as the peace talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are concerned.A ‘jam-packed’ agenda concerning a wide range of issues lied in the plate for the ruling functionaries when the federal cabinet met on Friday under the chair of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, with the peace measures with the Taliban reported to be on top of the list. According to sources, the PM held detailed discussions with his close confidantes on peace talks before finally deciding to give peace ‘one more chance’. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan briefed the cabinet on the situation of law and order in the country, the sources informed.Reportedly, the premier also shared with the cabinet members the details of his recent meeting with former president Asif Ali Zardari. The federal cabinet’s meeting was held a day after the Cabinet Committee on National Security had met under the premier’s chair in which the government had decided to pursue peace talks but not at the cost of violence. Apart from security issues, the economic situation was also discussed during the cabinet meet-up. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar gave a briefing on the country’s economic situation. The cabinet approved a comprehensive policy for the import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) that would allow the construction of an LNG terminal in Karachi in line with the policy. Signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the import of electricity from Iran was also approved by the cabinet. The MoU between the countries would be signed by PM Sharif during his visit to Iran. Pakistan would import 3,000 megawatts of electricity from Iran, according to a draft of the MoU. According to a media release, PM Sharif, while addressing the meeting, said that $1.6 billion would be spent on the construction of an airport and a seaport in Gwadar. He added that a heavy amount would also be spent on education, health, infrastructure and training of youth in Balochistan. The PM also said that taxes collected from the public were the ‘nation’s trust’. Moreover, the federal cabinet decided to delay the Right to Information Bill and said the government would consult the opposition over the matter.“The public money is sacred and we should ensure its judicious and efficient spending,” the PM told his cabinet members. He stated that development in Balochistan was an area of priority for the government and development plans to put Balochistan on the road to progress were being implemented expeditiously.The proposed socio-economic package for Balochistan includes provision of skilled manpower through training of human resource in different sectors, including health and education, while development of health and education infrastructure to cater for the people of province had also been planned. The cabinet also approved the tariff of $0.66/mmbtu for LNG services project, secured through competitive bidding process by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources.It also decided that the policy guidelines of the tariff would be conveyed to OGRA.The Cabinet further decided that other aspects of the commercial agreement would be settled between the two parties, Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and EPTL of Qatar.Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, while briefing the cabinet, informed that the price of LNG was competitive with the international market. He said the contract would be for 15 years and provide 200mmbtu LNG in the first year. He said that the supply would be increased to 400mmbtu from the second year. The cabinet also granted approval, in principle, to the draft bill for creation of Joint Maritime Information Organisation (JMIO). It also approved amendments to the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947 (FERA, 1947).
The SBP (Amendment) Bill 2010 and the SBP Banking Services Corporation Ordinance (Repeal) Bill 2010 were also approved, while the cabinet gave a nod to the Equity Participation Fund Repeal Bill 2014. It approved Reconsideration of the Decision of the Cabinet Regarding Repealing of Section 27B of the Banking Companies Ordinance, 1962. The cabinet considered the Constitution (Twenty-First Amendment) Bill 2013 and referred it to the relevant committee for further consideration.
Two amendments were proposed in Practitioners and Bar Councils Act, 1973.
It also approved a number of legislative bills and related drafts. 

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