Govt abolishes entertainment funds for ministries


–Firdous says 30,000 seminaries will be brought into mainstream, sources of funding will be monitored


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan on Tuesday said that the government has decided to abolish the allocation of funds for entertainment and gifts to ministries and public sector organisations.

Announcing the federal cabinet’s decisions in a press conference, Firdous said the move aims to ensure judicious utilisation of public money for the welfare of the common man.

“There were some provisions in ministries and divisions, under which funds were allocated for ‘chai and pani’ (tea and water). The cabinet has formally abolished these provisions today. So now there will be no entertainment and gift funds there,” she said.

Besides this, the cabinet reviewed the issue of energy in depth and the power division was directed to ensure power supply during Sehr and Iftar during Ramzan, Awan said. She said the cabinet ratified the ECC decisions of the previous meeting.

It may be mentioned here that the cabinet failed to ratify the appointment of Shabbar Zaidi as the chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

She said at least 30,000 seminaries will be brought into the mainstream by the government and their source of funding will be monitored.

Awan clarified that the education ministry would be associating itself with the madrassas and not bringing it under the control of the education ministry. She said these 30,000 seminaries will be linked with the ministry and act independently.

Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood apprised the cabinet that one-window registration of these madrassas is important as well as monitoring of their funding, she said, adding that the ministry will also support and give facilities to foreign students studying in these seminaries.

In addition, vocational training and capacity building of students is essential in order to give them an opportunity to earn living after graduation.

Speaking to reporters, Firdous said the incoming budget will meet public aspirations and all allied parties will be taken into confidence before the next budget session of parliament.

She said that the cabinet ratified the agreement on technical cooperation between Pakistan and Brazil. It also gave approval to the annual report of SECP that will be presented to the cabinet.

The cabinet also decided that no additional charges will be granted after three months and all posts will be filled in all ministries and divisions.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Power Omar Ayub said the issue of power theft has been contained to a large extent. He said there was no load-shedding on 80 per cent of the total 8783 feeders in the country.

He said we also wanted to provide electricity during sehri and iftar to 60 feeders that were under the load management, but it could not be done due to line losses and stealing.

Omar Ayub said a sum of Rs61 billion was recovered from electricity thieves in the last five months. During the drive, 4, 225 arrests were made and 27,000 FIRs lodged against the defaulters.

Omar Ayub Khan said the previous government left a burden of Rs450 billion in the circular debt.

He said this burden will be reduced and hopefully, in the next two years, the circular debt will be cleared. He said electric metering will be ensured in the next four years in order to overcome line losses.