KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali on Sunday expanded his cabinet by inducting four new ministers and two advisers.
Governor Imran Ismail administered oath to the four ministers — Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, Abdul Bari Pitafi, Ikram Dharejo and Sohail Anwar Siyal — at a simple ceremony held at the Governor House.
The number of ministers in the provincial cabinet has now risen to 18.
Mr Shah and Mr Pitafi were part of the Sindh cabinet till until last month when they submitted their resignations to take part in a by-election campaign for Sardar Muhammad Bux Mahar, who had also resigned from the cabinet to contest the by-election for the NA -205 constituency.
Mr Dharejo, who was re-elected on a PPP ticket in the 2018 general elections, was part of the previous cabinet of Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah before the 2018 general elections and held the portfolio of cooperatives along with his elder brother, Saifullah Khan Dharejo, who was the irrigation minister.
Mr Siyal had also served as the home minister and then agriculture minister in the cabinet of Murad Ali Shah prior to the general elections of 2018.
After the oath-taking ceremony, Sindh Chief Secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah announced that the CM had approved appointment of two more advisers — Nisar Khuhro and Syed Aijaz Shah Shirazi.
Nisar Khuhro, Aijaz Shirazi taken as CM’s aide
After their induction, the number of CM’s advisers has risen to four. Currently, Murtaza Wahab and Aijaz Jakhrani have been working as CM’s advisers on law & information and anti-corruption & prisons, respectively.
Registration of over 4,600 NGOs to be cancelled
The Sindh cabinet has decided to cancel the registration of 4,693 non-governmental and not-for-profit organisations (NGOs and NPOs) for not following government rules.
“The cabinet in its meeting [held on Saturday] decided to cancel the registration of such NGOs and NPOs as they have not been following the rules and regulations set by the Sindh government,” said Information Adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab.
It was reported that the NGOs and NPOs in question were not responding to the departments concerned and failed to follow the rules.
Briefing reporters after the cabinet
meeting, presided over by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, he said the Sindh Financial Rules had been amended to ensure transparency.
The cabinet decided to go for biometric verification of all pensioners to remove ‘ghost’ pensioners from the records.
CM to appoint ombudsman
The cabinet also approved a draft legislation to make chief minister the appointing authority for the provincial ombudsman in place of the governor.
Mr Wahab said the chief ministers of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa already enjoyed the same authority.
Citing the current rampant power outages in Karachi, he said the Sindh cabinet strongly disapproved performance of K-Electric during recent rains in Karachi.
He said the cabinet discussed at length certain memoranda of understanding signed between the federal and provincial governments vis-à-vis various financial matters.
He said a surplus budget was only possible for the Sindh government if the federal government transferred all assured funds on time.
He demanded that the Centre pay the long overdue funds to the provincial government immediately, adding, Islamabad had to pay Rs80bn to Sindh.
He said the cabinet decided to further expand the excavation of Thar Coal Project Phase-II being carried out by the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company.
The Thar Power subsidy would be awarded by the provincial government, while provision of free electricity to 2,700 families of Islamkot, who were utilising 100 units per month, was also decided. Some 1,800 other families would only have to pay for the units they consumed above 100 from August.
He said the cabinet decided to conduct a detailed survey of Islamkot taluka to make electricity available to the areas deprived of it.
Sindh Bank-Sindh Leasing Company merger
The cabinet also decided to grant Rs3 billion to the Sindh Bank as, Mr Wahab claimed, it needed the funds since all its accounts had been frozen.
He said that the cabinet also decided to change the board of governor of the Sindh Bank.
He said that Sindh government was determined to fix the predicaments the bank was facing and the cabinet also decided to merge the Sindh Bank and Sindh Leasing Company.
Barrister Wahab said that the CM had constituted a committee to assess renewal of lease of old buildings situated in Karachi’s old neighbourhoods.
He said the CM also formed a committee comprising the local government minister and his law adviser to assess transferring complete power to relevant officers of the Malir Development Authority “to get rid of” rampant encroachments.
He said that authority to such MDA officers would be sanctioned in accordance with the Sindh Public Property Removal of Encroachment Act-2010.
He said the cabinet discussed in detail the School Education Roadmap. Besides, the cabinet also decided to establish at least two model schools in every district of the province. It was also decided to merge all those schools having a single room or two rooms.
Board exams to be conducted in open grounds
Besides, the cabinet approved the idea that board examinations be conducted in open grounds and monitored through CCTV cameras. Likewise, checking of examination sheets would also be monitored by CCTV cameras.
Barrister Wahab said the cabinet expressed its strong reservations over “interference by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council in the affairs of the provincial government”.
“After passage of the 18th Amendment, the affairs of health and education are provincial subjects and the Sindh government would not hesitate to go to court against the PMDC if it does not take back its illegitimate decisions,” he said.
He said the cabinet expressed its serious reservation over a proposal given for a constitutional amendment presented by MNA Kishwar Zehra and four other lawmakers regarding deletion of Article 239 (4) and establishment of new provinces in the country. “The cabinet rejected the proposal out-and-out.”
He said the cabinet extended the deadline for computerisation of firearm licences to Dec 31 after which weapons with non-computerised licences would be seized.
He said the cabinet also approved an amendment to the Sindh Local Government Act according to which a plot in Surjani Town would be allocated for the Green Line bus project.
The cabinet also approved installation of CCTV cameras at 253 sites which included all sacred places of the communities practising minority faiths. The rules were decided to be relaxed to award the contract of installing CCTV cameras to the National Radio Telecommunication Corporation.
Barrister Wahab said the CM expressed his displeasure over a scandal involving the Sindh police according to which it allegedly purchased a pistol for Rs85,000 while its actual worth was Rs45,000.
He said that the cabinet also abolished three per cent sales tax on the print media.
As the cabinet meeting began, CM Murad Ali Shah and cabinet members “strongly condemned the brutality and use of cluster bombs by the Indian government in [occupied] Kashmir”.
“The cabinet appealed to the United Nations and rights organisations across the world to take notice of the use of brutal violence by the Indian government in Kashmir. The cabinet asked the federal government to summon Indian High Commissioner and show Pakistan’s resentment over the incident,” said Mr Wahab.