ISLAMABAD:(APS)April 18,2017-The Senate was informed on Tuesday that the government is trying its best to facilitate pilgrims at the lowest possible cost.
Minister of State for Religious Affairs Pir Amin-ul-Hasnat Shah told the House during question hour that Hajj process has been made easy, secured and improved due to effective measures taken by the government. He said 743 Hajj Group Organizers were allowed during the current year to send pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.
To a question, Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali told the House that all possible steps will be taken to provide maximum relief to the consumers during the holy month of Ramazan. He expressed the hope that no load-shedding will be carried out during Sehar and Iftar timings.
To another question, he said government has taken various steps to overcome the problem of load-shedding in the country. He said these steps include installation of hydel, coal, solar and wind power plants while a number of power generation projects are expected to be completed by June this and next year. He said steps are also being taken for the improvement in transmission and distribution system to reduce losses. He said new transmission lines have been laid down and several grid stations have been established to overcome losses.
Answering a question, the Minister of State said Pakistan is very vigilant in safeguarding waters of three Western Rivers allotted to it under Indus Waters Treaty. He said any violation of the treaty is promptly protested by Pakistan on the relevant forum. He said at present India has no storage work constructed on the waters of the three Western Rivers namely Sindh, Jhelum and Chenab. He said India has the right to construct the Run-of-River Hydroelectric plants on our Western Rivers within the limits of design and operational criteria provided in the Indus Waters Treaty.
To another question, he said there is no adverse impacts to the Eco-system, fish fauna at the downstream of the Dasu Dam project.
Responding to a question, he said 73 small dams were constructed during last three years having cumulative water storage capacity of over 1.2 million acre feet. He said 36 of those dams were constructed in Balochistan, six in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 30 in Sindh and one in Gilgit-Baltistan.
The Chairman held in order an adjournment motion for discussion moved by Nawabzada Saifullah Magsi regarding the implications of the decision of World Bank’s Tribunal namely Court for International Dispute Settlements regarding a case between the Government of Balochistan and Tethyan Copper Company.
The Senate today passed “The National School of Public Policy (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
The bill moved by Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Shaikh Aftab Ahmad provides further to amend the National School of Public Policy Ordinance, 2002.
Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan told the House that widening of trade deficit took place due to sizeable increase in import payment.
He was responding to a calling attention notice moved by Sherry Rehman regarding the increasing trade deficit during current financial year as reported by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics as well as independent research reports which shows a bleak picture of Pakistan’s economy whereas the Government is claiming that the economic indicators are improving.
The Minister said that a large amount of the import bill is due to import of machinery and other capital goods, which support the economy in its transition from low growth to higher growth phase by addressing the supply side bottlenecks in energy and infrastructure sectors. He said the import of machinery increased 42 percent as compared to last year.
Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan has said that Pakistan merchandise exports rose by ten percent in March last year.
Making a policy statement in the Senate this afternoon, he said last month was the fourth one for this fiscal year in which Pakistan’s exports increased on yearly basis with a highest record in November last year, when exports rose to 6.2 percent as compared to November, 2015.
The Minister said Pakistan’s services exports in February this year nearly doubled that is a rise of 90 percent compared monthly basis to January this year and also rose 90 percent compared to yearly basis in February last year.
He said exports of high value added textile products, oil products like readymade garments and bedware items have risen.
Khurram Dastgir Khan said Pakistan’s share in the European Union in textile market has gone up as a result of duty-free access to Pakistani products. He said Pakistan’s exports to EU have increased from 4.52 billion euros in 2013 to 6.28 billion euros in last year.
The Commerce Minister said textile exports to EU have increased by 55 percent during the same three years period.
He said overall exports receipts grew by marginal 1.2 percent in second quarter of this fiscal year. He said import of Liquefied Natural Gas increased by 144 percent this year which will help mitigate gas shortage in the country and meet the requirements of the industry, especially fertilizer and power generations. He said import of LNG is also releasing local gas for domestic consumers.
Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan says prices of the essential food items are mainly stable in the country due to effective monetary policy of the government.
He was winding up discussion on an adjournment motion moved by Muhammad Azam Khan Swati and Siraj-ul-Haq regarding recent price-hike in basic food items which has further exacerbated the financial position of poor people.
The Minister said prices of only six of 53 essential food items has increased while the same remained stable for 32 items. He said it is correct that prices of Tomato was increased due to fluctuation in demand and supply but now prices of the commodity is about 60 rupees per kg.
He said government regularly conducts surveys of 76 markets of 40 cities of the country to ensure stability in the prices of the food items. He said at present 4.01 percent inflation was recorded which was very low than the apprehended ones. He said the government is also providing subsidies to farmers to maintain prices of the daily food items.
Earlier, taking part in the discussion, the members said exorbitant rates of kitchen items have made life of a common man miserable and worst. They urged the government to provide quality food items in sufficient amounts and at affordable prices. The members also called for taking steps to protect people’s health due to degradation of environment and lack of quality food items. They said poor is getting poorer with every passing day and there is a dire need of taking steps to support the common people of this country.
Those who took part in the discussion include Azam Khan Swati, Siraj-ul-Haq, Sehar Kamran, Mian Ateeq Shaikh, Dr Jahanzeb Jamaldini, Usman Khan Kakar, Kamil Ali Agha, Muhammad Javed Abbasi, Nehal Hashmi and Hafiz Hamdullah.
The House will now meet tomorrow afternoon at three.