All resources to be utilized for polio eradication: PM

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Thursday said the government was working on war-footing to eradicate polio and all available resources would be utilized to make Pakistan a polio-free country in near future.

The Federal Cabinet met here under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister and focused on the issue of polio eradication from the country, “Budget Strategy Paper 2014-17” and other proposals from various ministries.

The Prime Minister said he was personally supervising the Polio Eradication Programme and would ensure that all the issues and problems being faced in the implementation of the Programme were resolved immediately.

He also directed that an extensive awareness campaign be carried out to dispel the misconceptions about polio vaccination.

Earlier, the Cabinet was briefed by National Coordinator for Polio Eradication Ayesha Raza Farooq regarding barriers, challenges faced by the polio programme and the way forward for making it a success.

The Cabinet was informed that 90 percent of Pakistan was

polio-free and the virus was only isolated to few areas of FATA and Karachi.

The meeting was informed that this year, cases have been reported only in conflict-ridden areas which showed that the inaccessibility of field vaccination workers was the main reason behind reported cases.

The Prime Minister directed that filed workers should be provided security in coordination with provincial governments and wherever necessary the services of Pakistan Army may also be utilized.

Later, Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar and Secretary Finance Division Dr. Waqar Masood Khan gave detailed presentation to the Cabinet members on “Budget Strategy Paper 2014-17.”

The Finance Minister briefed that the government was re- framing the budget structure for next three years, placing emphasis on major policy objectives.

Elaborating the positive economic indicators of first nine months of the government, the Finance Minister said that during first half of the last financial year 2012-13, the GDP growth was recorded at 3.4 percent that appreciated to 4.1 percent in first half of 2013-14.

He said GDP growth for the first nine months of current financial year was 4.14 percent. It was also informed that rapid growth in industrial sector and import of machinery for use in large scale industries was indicators of growing economy.

He said the most performing sector of economy remained the large scale industrial sector which grew at a rate of 5.2 percent, while in the corresponding period of the last financial year it was 2.9 percent.

The Finance Minister said the import of machinery also saw an increase from $ 2.9 billion last year to $ 3.8 billion in the current financial year. The performance of credit towards the private sector has increased approximately three times as compared to corresponding period of the last financial year, he added.

Elaborating the next three years’ budgetary framework, the Finance Minister told the Cabinet that they planned to increase GDP growth rate by 7.2 percent till 2016-17.

It was informed that the country’s foreign exchange reserves stood at $ 12.92 billion as on May 13, 2014 which was an indicator of growing economy.

The Federal Cabinet also discussed the budget proposals for 2014-15.

The Prime Minister and the Cabinet appreciated efforts of the government’s finance team, led by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for their persistent efforts to improve the overall economy of the country and for coming up with balanced three-year budgetary framework.

Explaining his vision, the Prime Minister directed for taking all possible economic measures to place Pakistan amongst emerging economies of the region while ensuring maximum relief for the people of the country.

He said appreciation in the value of Pakistani rupee against US dollar and consequent reduction in the prices of POL was possible because of the pragmatic economic measures of the government.

The Prime Minister stressed for maintaining the same pace of development and economic growth, in the coming years.

The Cabinet deferred the Draft Bill for the Establishment of the National Food Safety, Animal and Plant Health Regulatory Authority.

It directed that the Ministry of Food Security and Research should come up with revised draft bill after consulting the Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Commerce to avoid overlapping and duplication of functions.

In the meeting, the Federal Cabinet approved amendment in Seed Act, 1976, Framework Agreement between China and Pakistan on Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project and agreement between Turkmenistan and Pakistan on Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation.

The Cabinet also ratified Memorandum of Understanding regarding upgradation of Pakistan-Bahrain Joint Economic Committee (JEC) to the level of Joint Ministerial Commission.

The ratification of the agreement in the field of vocational training signed between Jordan and Pakistan on March 7, 2012, was also made.

The ratification of MoU between Pakistan and Turkey in the field of urbanization and signing of an agreement on cooperation in the field of handicrafts between Pakistan and Tunisia, was also ratified.

The Federal Cabinet also approved starting of negotiations on cultural exchange programme between Nigeria and Pakistan for 2014 to 2017 besides approving programme of cultural cooperation between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia for 2014-2019.

The Cabinet approved cultural cooperation between Pakistan and the Russian Federation for 2014-2018 and starting of negotiations on MoU on cultural cooperation between Pakistan and Iraq for 2014 to 2019.

The Federal Cabinet also approved starting of negotiations on the executive programme for cultural cooperation between Kuwait and Pakistan, for renewal of the MoU on cultural cooperation between Norway and Pakistan and for cultural and scientific cooperation between Pakistan and Jordon.

It also approved signing of an agreement on transfer of sentenced persons between Pakistan and Korea besides starting negotiations and signing of MoU on cooperation in food security, particularly rice, between Pakistan and Bahrain.

The Cabinet ratified convention between Pakistan and Moldova for avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement in addition to signing of MoU between the Turkish Standards Institution (TSE) and Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority.

The ratification of MoU between Board of Investment and Kuwait Investment Authority with the direction to come up with a comprehensive roadmap for increasing foreign investment in Pakistan, was also made.

The Cabinet also made confirmation of the decisions taken by the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCOP) in its meeting held on October 3, last year.