PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak on Tuesday presided over a meeting of the provincial cabinet in which several key decisions were made, including the approval of an amendment to the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010 and the allocation of nearly Rs24 billion for priority projects in the province.
Provincial ministers, Chief Secretary Muhammad Azam Khan, additional chief secretary and administrative secretaries attended the cabinet meeting and discussed a 16-points agenda.
The provincial government agreed to amendments in the women harassment act, approving the recruitment of an ombudsperson to address women’s grievances at their workplaces. It further approved the regularisation of 36,278 teachers and other employees recruited through the National Testing Service (NTS) throughout the province. The amendments approved of in the cabinet meeting would be presented before the provincial assembly for proper legislation.
The cabinet also approved the allocation of Rs23.93 billion for priority projects related to public welfare. The breakdown of the new allocation of funds include Rs4 billion for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Highway Authority, Rs5 billion for communication and works, Rs1.03 billion for solarisation, Rs2 billion for irrigation, Rs1 billion for higher education, Rs1 billion for secondary education, Rs2 billion for irrigation, Rs1.6 billion for electricity-related projects and Rs300 million for Sui gas-related projects.
The cabinet also agreed to the strengthening of the excise and taxation department and to allow the collection of revenues, including abiana (water charges), through the department. Previously, the responsibility of collecting revenue used to fall on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (KPPRA).
The chief minister, in consultation with the cabinet, also upgraded the status of Advisors to Chief Minister Ishtiaq Urmar and Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani to full provincial ministers for their performance in their respective departments.
The chief minister gave instructions to develop the properties of the auqaf department on commercial lines to enhance its generation of revenue.
He also asked for experts to collect details related to the electricity projects and said that a 10 percent provincial quota of electricity was unacceptable since, under the formula laid down by National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA), the share of KP stood at 13.5 percent.
He also directed to conduct a meeting of officials from the finance department, local governments and Accountant General (AG) office to bring visible transparency in the efficient use of resources in the lowest tiers of governance. He came down hard on the government’s inability to collect abiana and other revenues, saying that a proper mechanism of reward and punishment for the responsible officials should be implemented.
The cabinet also approved a new communication policy of the information department, through which it would shift from gathering information through traditional mechanisms to applying an overall innovative system including the use of alternative and social media.
During the meeting, Pervez Khattak said that the provincial government had initiated a number of mega projects, including Swat Motorway, Bus Rapid Transit Peshawar, establishment of universities at all divisional headquarters and spreading it to district levels, the issuance of Sehat Insaf Cards, establishment of 69 new colleges and the billion-tree tsunami. He said that all these projects bore testimony to the new style of public welfare governance in the province, adding that good governance was not restricted to these mega projects but went beyond into all public-sector institutions.