CCI seeks proposals from provinces for priority SZEs

  • All provinces to be part of HEC for enhanced representation

ISLAMABAD: The Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has directed the provinces to submit bankable proposals for the establishment of priority Special Economic Zones (SEZs) under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for early implementation.

The 35th meeting of the council, held at PM’s Office, Islamabad, to discuss an 11-point agenda was attended by Sindh CM Syed Murad Ali Shah, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa CM Pervaiz Khattak, Balochistan CM Abdul Quddus Bizenjo and Punjab Finance Minister Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha among others.

The council also reviewed the implementation status of decisions taken during its meeting held on November 24, 2017. In the last, the council had decided to form a task force to raise the standard of education across the country. The committee had also sought recommendations on a uniform education system in the country and textbooks, besides agreeing on the summary of the import of LNG.

Regarding the higher education sector’s performance, the minister for federal education Training briefed the CCI on matters pertaining to the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and other similar bodies in the post-18th Amendment scenario.

The CCI noted that as per the Constitution, formulation of standards in institutions for higher education and research, scientific and technical institution is the responsibility of the federal government. It was agreed that the federal and provincial governments would undertake monitoring, evaluation and accreditation of such institutes.

The council also directed the education ministry to work on a proposal in consultation with all stakeholders for the establishment of a national level testing body for unified assessment standards across the country.

To further enhance representation of provinces in the HEC, it was decided that among the seven members (prominent educationists) being appointed by the PM, representation of all the provinces will be ensured.

Following the power minister’s statement concerning the reduction in system losses and increased electricity supply, the meeting also discussed gas and electricity management by the provinces, particularly generation, transmission, and distribution.

Last week, Power Minister Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari had said that surplus power was now available in the system, sufficient to end load shedding across the country, but only if there were no losses, as he hinted at greater load shedding in the summer.

During the meeting, National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) also presented the annual reports for years 2014-15 and 2015-16, besides the state of industry’s annuals reports 2015 and 2016.

Furthermore, the CCI deliberated upon the problems being faced by the sugarcane growers, including timely payments to them on the prescribed rates. Expressing concerns, PM Abbasi directed the ministry of national food security to work with provinces for early resolution of the issue.

While discussing power-related issues of Balochistan, the CCI directed the Planning Commission and the Power Division to expedite energy projects in the province.

The meeting also considered and assented to place draft Bill for the Establishment of National Metrology Institute of Pakistan, (NMIP) before parliament.

The CCI also decided that the federal government may devise a National Policy Framework for ensuring the wellbeing of the senior citizens in consultation with the provincial government and relevant federal ministries. The document would serve as a guiding document for all the governments for having their own respective policy and legal instrument by meeting the broad parameters set forth in the policy framework.

While discussing the allocation of additional water supply for Karachi City (K4 Project), the meeting decided that the issue would be taken up after a detailed presentation by the Ministry of Water Resources on the availability and distribution of water under the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) Accord.