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Cabinet Approves Major Changes and Extends Afghan Refugees’ Stay

In a significant move, the federal cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, approved several key decisions, including the abolition of the Pakistan Public Works Department (PWD) and an extension for Afghan refugees’ right to stay.

Abolition of Pak-PWD

The cabinet decided to abolish the Pakistan Public Works Department (PWD) with a directive to complete the transition within two weeks. Under the approved plan, an asset and facility management company will be established to take over maintenance and repair works previously handled by Pak-PWD. Staff will be transferred to respective ministries following a grading system, and a golden handshake scheme will be implemented. All property records of Pak-PWD will be computerized.

A new entity, the Pakistan Infrastructure Development Company, will be created to oversee federal development projects. Provincial development projects currently under federal supervision will be transferred to relevant provincial institutions.

Government Rightsizing

The cabinet was briefed on progress made by a committee, chaired by the finance minister, to reduce the government size. The committee is gathering information for rightsizing essential institutions and closing unnecessary subsidiary institutions within various ministries, including Information Technology, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, States and Frontier Regions, Industries and Production, and National Health Services. Recommendations for closures or mergers of other institutions will be made after consulting relevant ministries.

Extension for Afghan Refugees

The cabinet approved a one-year extension for ‘Proof of Registration’ (PoR) cards for 1.45 million Afghan refugees legally residing in Pakistan, whose PoR cards expired last month. The extension is valid until June 30, next year.

Economic Coordination Committee Decisions

The cabinet also approved decisions taken by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) on June 27, including the establishment of the Pension Fund and a defined contributory scheme for new entrants effective from July 1, 2024, and for armed forces from July 1, 2025.

Other Key Approvals

  • The cabinet allowed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to establish provincial headquarters at Federal Lodge-II in Peshawar.
  • Approval was given to terminate the status of Bahawalpur Medical College from April 19, 2024, due to non-compliance with Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) requirements. Students will be transferred to other medical colleges, and an inquiry will be conducted to determine how the college was allowed to operate despite not meeting standards.
  • Javed Qureshi was appointed as a director representing the Government of Pakistan on the Board of Directors of K-Electric.

These decisions reflect the cabinet’s efforts to streamline government operations, enhance infrastructure development, and address the needs of Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan.

 

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