Cabinet okays TFC plan for circular debt

ISLAMABAD - Chairing a meeting on Wednesday, Prime Minster Yousuf Raza Gilani took the cabinet and coalition partners into confidence on by-polls and the 20th Amendment Bill that will be tabled in the National Assembly during the current session.Sources close to the development told this scribe that Minister for Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Manzoor Wattoo briefed the prime minister on his meetings with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and others regarding the 20th Amendment.According to the sources, Wattoo informed Gilani that the two opposition parties, JUI-F and PPP-Sherpao, had assured their support to the government for the passage of the proposed amendment.“The coalition partners (ANP, MQM and members from Fata) also assured to support the move; however, the PML-Q representatives in the federal cabinet told the premier that they would make a decision after a party, which was scheduled after the cabinet session,” they added.Sources said the cabinet also discussed the public gatherings and other activities by banned outfits in the country on which Interior Minister Rehman Malik promised to write to the Punjab Police chief and the chief secretary about the issue.Meanwhile, the federal cabinet also decided to issue term finance certificates worth one hundred and sixty billion rupees to resolve the circular debt crisis and tackle the resultant power load-shedding.The move would help halve the circular debt and improve efficiency of power generation companies.Briefing the media persons on the cabinet decisions, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan said the cabinet endorsed the decisions of the Economic Coordination Committee.Replying to a query about the remarks passed by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Wednesday, she said it was not the responsibility of the federal government to supply medicines to the hospitals, adding that there was a mechanism through which the provinces have to register medicines and determine those involved in the supply of spurious drugs.She said Shahbaz should make himself accountable for weakness of his government and must not drag the federal government into the matter. She called for a fair inquiry into the matter, saying, “We do not believe in the blame game.”To another question, Firdous said the prime minister had convened a meeting of the Council of Common Interests on February 9 to review the pending cases in the provinces and bring legislation on important issues, including the usage and killing of people by the spurious drugs.The meeting instructed the ministries of Interior and States and Frontier Regions to take initiatives for immediate repatriation of Afghan refugees to Afghanistan. Gilani asked the concerned quarters to ensure that the Afghan refugees were confined to the designated Sector of I-12 of Islamabad and directed the Interior Ministry to expedite work on establishment of Madrassa Welfare Authority for introduction of uniform syllabus, registration of foreign students and look into sources of funding.The meeting directed the Interior, Law, States and Frontier Regions and Provincial Coordination ministries to finalise draft of the National Counter Terrorism Authority Bill.

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