Officials 'illegally appointed' by Ishaq Dar in banks, govt departments removed: minister

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday announced that the government had decided to remove the officials "illegally appointed" by former finance minister Ishaq Dar from service.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad after a meeting of the federal cabinet, Chaudhry said it had been decided to remove several high-level officials in banks and government departments as according to a Supreme Court decision, only the cabinet could appoint directors and heads of departments. This role had been unlawfully delegated to Dar by the previous PML-N government, the minister said.

The officials dismissed from their posts include Saeed Ahmed, the president of National Bank of Pakistan; Tahira Raza, the president of First Women Bank; Syed Talat Mehmood, the president of Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited; and Ehsanul Haq Khan, the president of SME Bank.

In addition, four regulators appointed during the previous government's tenure have also been removed including: Jameel Ahmed, the deputy governor of State Bank; Shamsul Hassan, the deputy governor of State Bank; M.S Vadiya Khalil, the chairperson of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP); Dr Mohammad Saleem of CCP; and Shahzad Ansar of CCP.

'High-profile varsity at PM House'

Chaudhry disclosed that the preliminary framework of a "high-profile" university that the government intends to build in the Prime Minister House was presented during today's cabinet meeting.

A cabinet group led by Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood has been formed to move the plan forward. The panel will also include Dr Shireen Mazari, Abdul Razzak Dawood, Dr Ishrat Hussain, the chairman of the Higher Education Commission and experts from the field.

Recalling the steps taken by the government to reduce the expenses of the Prime Minister House, the minister said 62 cars at the office had been auctioned off, earning the government Rs180 million in revenue. Rs2.3m had been earned by selling off eight buffaloes owned by the PM House, while the number of employees of the premier's residence had been reduced from 528 to four of five. The rest of the employees have gone into the government pool and have not been removed from service, Chaudhry announced.

2,467 govt properties to be utilised

Chaudhry announced that a total of 2,467 properties belonging to the federal government and the governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab have been identified to be utilised for alternate purposes.

A task force led by Defence Minister Pervez Khattak has been formed to determine how the properties could be alternatively utilised, the minister said.

He revealed that the residence of a commissioner in Punjab is spread over 35 kanals on average, and that of a deputy commissioner is as large as 32 kanals.

"When the commissioners and their deputies live in 35 kanal houses in a country that is buried in Rs28 trillion in debts, how will we move forward about austerity?" the minister asked.

Separately, he announced that a website has been launched for the public to track the new government's progress as part of its 100-day agenda. The website, pm100days.pmo.gov.pk, lists the milestones achieved by the Imran Khan-led government in various areas of governance.

Chaudhry also disclosed that a delegation from the United Arab Emirates will arrive in Pakistan in coming days to sign various investment agreements.

Cabinet approves MoU for 'state-of-the-art refinery in Gwadar'

Addressing the press conference, Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan announced the cabinet had granted approval for the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) regarding investment in a state-of-the-art oil refinery in Gwadar by Saudi Arabia.

Read: Talks with Saudi Arabia on $8bn Gwadar refinery in final stages

The modalities of the refinery, including its capacity and cost, will be decided when the two sides sit for talks on the matter. However, the exact location where the refinery will be set up has been earmarked in Gwadar, the minister revealed.

According to Sarwar, the Balochistan government will be taken on board regarding the refinery when the agreement is finalised.

He announced that the agreement regarding the refinery will be signed between the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and Saudi Arabia's state owned-Aramco. The Saudi energy minister will visit Pakistan at the end of October or the beginning of next month for this purpose, he said.

The minister said the visiting Saudi delegation was also offered to participate in the $2 billion North-South Gas Pipeline and bid for the upcoming 10 petroleum exploration blocks to be offered for auction soon.

He said a false impression had been created that Prime Minister Imran Khan had visited Saudi Arabia last month to seek aid for Pakistan. In reality, the government had offered the Kingdom projects to invest in, Sarwar said. He said the Saudis were keen to invest in various sectors and had sent a high-powered delegation to Pakistan for the same purpose.



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