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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Cabinet was informed on Wednesday that the government had initiated reforms in the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), including the process for issuing licenses to pilots, while all the airlines in the country had been directed to ensure transparency in procedures.

Briefing newsmen about the decisions taken by the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz said the pilots now operating the planes of Pakistani airlines had 100 percent authentic degrees as all identified suspects have been grounded.

He said five employees of the CAA had also been suspended till the whole process of reforms was completed. It had been directed to take further action on fast-track basis, where the degrees of the staff of all airlines, including pilots, engineers and ground staff. would be verified.

He said the prime minister strongly believed in merit and transparency in all sectors.

The minister read out a statement for the media, which said: “On the instructions of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the process of reforms has been initiated in the Civil Aviation Authority and all Pakistani airlines to ensure the sanctity of proper licensing and fulfillment of all requirements by the pilots.

A thorough forensic review has identified various instances where licensing requirements were suspect, not fully adhering to the requirements of all examinations. To ensure highest safety requirements, and meet professional criteria, all identified suspects have been grounded.

“This grounding has been in effect since June 25, 2020. Due to certain instances of administrative lapses, five officials concerned of Civil Aviation Authority has been placed under suspension and an inquiry has been initiated against them. This process of professional upgradation and overall reforms will continue in all Pakistani airlines and CAA. On this the cabinet also instructed the CAA to pursue further actions in line with due process on a fast track basis.

“It expressed confidence in the overall capability and performance of the fully licensed and well experienced and professional pilots of Pakistani airlines. The government also asked the relevant government departments to work with international partners to facilitate travel and avoid any difficulty for passengers.”

Senator Shibli Faraz said the cabinet deliberated on the report of the Auditor General and expressed satisfaction that remarkable improvement had been made in procedures during the past 20 months.

He said it accorded approval to three agreements of hydro power projects, including Kohala Power Project.

The cabinet, the minister, also took into consideration the renewable energy options for power production, including solar and wind energy. The prime minister issued directives to remove hurdles and bottlenecks in the way of alternative sources to encourage cheap energy production,.

The cabinet also discussed sustainable development goals and on the suggestion of Minister for Information Technology Aminul Haq, the prime minister directed to reallocate development funds within a month before their lapse.

Shibli Faraz said the prime minister also directed to activate provincial finance commission in order for equitable development in all parts of provinces in an organized way and without any undue political influence. It would also help remove a sense of deprivation among the residents of backward areas in a province, he remarked.

He said after deliberations on the performance of Pak PWD, a committee under the leadership of Federal Minister of Economic Affairs Khusro Bakhtiar was constituted, on the directives of the prime minister, to look into public sector projects to be undertaken on reduced costs and improved quality. The committee would submit its report in 90 days’ time.

The minister said the cabinet discussed the potential of IT (information technology) exports and how to increase Pakistan’s share in the international market. The sector had the potential to increase exports to $ 5 billion dollars from the present $ 1 billion.

The cabinet also approved the appointment of Usman Nasir as Managing Director of Pakistan Software Export Board.

While discussing the issue of evacuee properties and their optimal use for income generation, it was decided that education and health related properties could be offered to private parties to not only generate their business but also provide facilities to the public.

Shibli Faraz said presently in the energy mix some projects were producing one unit at the cost of Rs 34 which were needed to be replaced by the cheaper power generation ones to provide relief to the consumers.

The cabinet, he said, discussed the draft of Zaireen policy to regulate the visit to Iran, Iraq and Syria, and avoid unnecessary rush at Quetta and Taftan in certain seasons. After discussion it was deferred till the next meeting with the directives to remove the shortcomings and preparation of a legal fretwork .

The cabinet accorded approval to appoint an auditor for the Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).—APP