Federal cabinet to decide gas prices today2 min read

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ISLAMABAD:  Prime Minister Imran Khan will chair the fifth meeting of the federal cabinet today (Thursday) to discuss and decide whether or not to increase the gas prices for domestic consumers.

The cabinet is also likely to approve abolishment of the Capital Administration and Development Division and appointment of a former World Bank official as the Board of Investment (BOI) chairman.

Recently, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) headed by Finance Minister Asad Umar had left it to the prime minister to decide about increase in gas prices by up to 186 per cent in view of the political nature of the move and objections raised by the Sindh government.

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Also Read: ECC passes the buck to PM over gas tariff

The federal cabinet will also ratify the decisions of the ECC taken on September 10. These ratifications are with regard to import of 100,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer to meet the Rabi crop season needs; withdrawal of subsidy being availed by the richest domestic consumers on sale of gas by introducing a fourth tariff slab and withdrawing the subsidy being availed by the fertiliser manufacturers, etc.

The nine-point agenda of the meeting also includes discussion on special forensic audit of the all urban mass-transit projects including Orange Line train project constructed in Lahore, Rawalpindi/Islamabad and Multan during the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government.

The government has recently turned down a proposal of involving the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) and provincial governments in a special audit of mega transport projects and has decided to hand over the task to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in a bid to determine the level of finances and subsidies involved.

Also Read: Alternative gas governance system may be adopted

The cabinet is also likely to approve appointment of Haroon Sharif, a former World Bank official, as new chairman of the BOI. A summary to this effect will be placed before the cabinet for approval.

The cabinet will also approve transfer of health related assets and setups from the Islamabad Capital Territory Administration to the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination.

It will also formally approve formation of the Assets Recovery Unit as was decided during the last cabinet meeting. The unit is formed with the aim to bring back looted public money from abroad.

The PM has already approved sending a delegation to Switzerland to activate diplomatic channels to accelerate the ratification of a bilateral treaty for exchanging information with Switzerland in a bid to remove a major bottleneck in accessing crucial information about hidden assets abroad.

Officials of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the FIA, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and intelligence agencies will be members of the Assets Recovery Unit.

Other cabinet agenda items include amendment in rules of the Pakistan Navy Rules, 1961, constitution of a task force to streamline the regulatory regime at implementation level, and income tax amendment ordinance.

(This news/article originally appeared in The Express Tribune on September 13th, 2018)

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