Raza Rabbani criticises appointment of non-elected members in federal cabinet
ISLAMABAD.: The government has assured the Senate that the funds allocated for the multi-billion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project will not be redirected for any other purpose.
“Rs167 billion were allocated for CPEC and funds for seventy per cent of the projects have been released. Rs180 billion reserved for CPEC will not be transferred inappropriately. CPEC is an extremely significant project for the country,” Minister for Parliamentary Affair Azam Swati told Senate on Friday.
Azam Swati was responding to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani, who earlier claimed that the incumbent government had halted over 300 CPEC-related projects.
“The government has also not taken the house into confidence over its talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package,” Rabbani said. The IMF has been pushing the government to reveal the details of CPEC related investments.
On Friday, senators also protested against absence of Federal Minister of Planning Khusro Bakhtiar who was to respond to the lawmakers queries with regard to CPEC.
Moving towards presidential system
Rabbani also criticised presence of non-elected advisers in the federal cabinet and said: “Formation of cabinet is prerogative of prime minister but such appointments would affect the affairs of the government and raise doubts that we are moving towards presidential system.”
He said five advisers and 17 special assistants in the federal cabinet are non-elected people. “Why special assistants have been made part of the cabinet meetings given the fact that they have not even taken oath,” he asked. Rabbani, who has also served as Senate chairman, said the Secretariat Act does not allow in special assistants attending cabinet meetings.
He also asked why Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, the PM’s adviser on finance and the de facto finance minister, was being tasked to estimate the defence budget. “The defence budget cannot be brought for discussion even in the parliament so how can the government claim that it is in safe hands.”
He said measures like these are paralysing the parliamentary system and a way for so-called technocrat system is being paved. “We will not accept any system other than the parliamentary system. We will not accept any measure against parliamentary system of governance.”
Health card scheme
Officials of the Health Ministry while presenting details of the health card scheme said over 10 million people will be able to benefit from health cards distributed in 2019-20.
Swati told the house that prime minister took personal notice of the issue of medicine prices. He said currently, the ministry has a supply of 30,000 doses of the vaccine against rabies and there is no need to procure medicines from India.
The members also reviewed Senator Ateeq Shaikh’s motion against excessive use of antibiotics and said such medicines should be included in the drug control list. Swati said it is a serious matter and the government is working on it. The Senate session was adjourned till Monday 3pm.