ISLAMABAD " The federal cabinet here on Wednesday decided to reinstate all the sacked/removed employees/workers in the government departments/organizations during the period from November 1993 to November 1996 and sacked/removed during the period November 1996 to December 1998.   "All those employees who were provided employment by PPP during 1993-96 and removed from service later, would be reinstated with seniority and back financial benefits", said Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Sherry Rehman while briefing the media on the decisions of federal cabinet that met here under the chair of Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. She said the sacked employees of Sui Southern Gas Company were also included in the package. "The Prime Minister had constituted a special committee to assess the financial implications, oversee the decision and ensure its implementation. Mian Raza Rabbani, Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, Manzoor Wattoo, Naveed Qamar, Sherry Rehman, Rehmatullah Kakar, Shaukat Tarin and Justice (Retd) Abdul Razzak A Thahim are the members of the committee", she stated. She said that the cabinet had approved measures to provide relief in the interest rate for loan to spinning sector and R&D support to textile and clothing industry.  "The Government had provided mark-up rate subsidy @ 3% for one year (2007-08) to the spinning mills on outstanding running balances of principal amount of floating rates loans availed by the industry during 01.7.2003 to 30.06.2007 from commercial banks for financing import of spinning machinery, for which funds under State Bank's Long Term Financing for Export Oriented Project (LTF-EOP) scheme have not been availed", she told the media. She said that under the scheme, claims were to be filed on six-monthly basis, i.e. for the period July-December 2007 after  1st January 2008. Due to unavoidable circumstances a number of subsidy claims for the first six months could not be filed. Claims for the period January-June 2008 were to be filed after 1st July 2008. It has been indicated that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has enforced 30th June 2008 as the cut-off date for making payments under this scheme, whereas claims were to be filed only after 1st July 2008.   "To resolve the above issue the State Bank of Pakistan shall be asked to condone the delay in filing claims for the first six months and also allow claims for the reimbursement of 3% interest to the textiles (Spinning) sector beneficiaries by extending the date beyond 30th June 2008. This proposal would involve an approximate expenditure of Rs.750 million.  In order to offset the interest rate hike and to facilitate the industry, the mark-up reimbursement facility has been extended till 30th June 2009 and the spinning sector will be allowed reimbursement @ 3% for which approx Rs.1,220 million will be required", she said. She said that the cabinet had approved, in principle, starting negotiations between Pakistan and Bulgaria for an agreement in economic cooperation. "The agreement envisages establishment of a joint commission between the two countries for enhancing greater bilateral economic cooperation. The commission will provide a platform to promote cooperation between the two countries in the fields of commerce, industry, food and agriculture, higher education, science and technology and other fields of mutual interests", she stated. Sherry Rehman said that the cabinet had also approved the starting of negotiations for an agreement on economic, scientific and technical cooperation between Pakistan and Romania. "The agreement will provide for establishment of a joint economic commission for enhancing greater bilateral economic cooperation in the fields of commerce, industry, food and agriculture, higher education, science and technology etc", she held. "The cabinet has also approved ratification of Cartagena protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Protocol deals with safe transfer, handling and use of Living or Genetically Modified Organisms (LMOS, GMOS) such as genetically engineered plants, animals and microbes that can cross international borders. Ratification of this Protocol will place Pakistan in a better position to have access to the international market to sell its genetically modified products like Bt.cotton, bio-fertilizer, virus free seeds, potato, etc that have been field tested in Pakistan. Pakistan will also be now qualified for receiving grant assistance from United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)/Global Environment Facility (GEF)", she said. Information Minister said that the government had reduced the prices of various items as a step towards economic recovery. "Petroleum prices have been reduced recently following decrease in the prices of petroleum items in the international markets", she said. She said that the tariff on electricity had also been reduced. "The government has decided to drop the hike in electricity tariff. The consumers would now be required to deposit only 60 per cent of the electricity bills issued to the consumers on new rates", she said.   "The retail prices on essential edible items are also being reduced. The government has scaled down the retail price of ghee by an average of Rs 12 per kg in the wake of decrease in palm oil prices in the international market. The sugar and wheat prices are also being monitored. The government has decided to release 50,000 tons of sugar in the market to balance the sugar prices", the Minister said.   The Minister said that at present, the government possessed 3.4 million tons of wheat stocks that could adequately meet local demand. "From July to November the total wheat arrivals would be around 1.75 million tons and prices in international markets have also started to come down", she said. "The FBR has once again crossed the revenue collection target with Rs 87.689 billion tax (inclusive of direct and indirect taxes) against the target of Rs 78.2 billion for the month of October 2008. The FBR has so far collected Rs 349.8 billion as against the Rs 329.3 billion target set for the period July-October 2008 in the current fiscal year that shows an increase of over Rs 20 billion", Sherry Rehman told the media.   She said that the government had fast tracked resolution of the power shortage issue. "The shortage would be brought down to the minimum. There has been increase in water releases from the Mangla dam, while the government has also disbursed Rs 60 billion to independent power producers (IPPs). There has also been an ease in the supply of furnace oil moderating pressure on power generation activity", she said.   She said that the government was also working to boost investment in the power sector for the generation of 3,000 MW electricity. "The World Bank, IFC and Exim Bank have agreed to support development of coal and hydel resources to enhance the country's power generation capacity", the Minister stated. She said that in the cabinet meeting, the Ministry of Water and Power had been asked to revamp the power sector by rationalising and streamlining the institutional set-up, reducing dependence on imported fuels for electricity generation and undertaking major initiatives to conserve energy and reduce line losses. "Pakistan would also be introducing 'Smart Electricity Meters (SEM)' to eliminate complaints of inflated and manipulated billing to consumers as part of the IEMS", she said. "The Cabinet reviewed the relief measures for the victims of Balochistan earthquake. The National Disaster Management Authority has moved a huge stock of relief goods/items from COD Karachi to COD Quetta for storage in Quetta. These goods are moved as special assignment by the Pakistan Railways. The consignment includes: tents, blankets, winter items, and other items to facilitate the victims' rehabilitation", she said.  The Minister said that in pursuance of the President and the Prime Minister's directives, Cabinet Division Emergency Relief Cell (ERC) continued relief assistance to earthquake victims of Balochistan and adequate relief goods have already been supplied.   "The President and the Prime Minister have approved the provision of cash compensation amounting to Rs.25,000/- per house and 15 CGI sheets per house for 1000 damaged houses to enable the effectees to carry out the construction work on self-help basis. An amount of Rs 31.436 million has already been released for this purpose", she said.   The Minister said that the government would be dispatching another 30,000 tents and 100,000 blankets to the Province. "A tender has already been floated for this purpose and the goods would be dispatched soon", she added.   "A number of countries have sent earthquake assistance for the Balochistan calamity. The US Government is sending an assistance of $2.5m, the Saudi Arabia Government has pledged $100m while the Chinese and the Malaysian governments have also committed support for earthquake victims", she said. The Minister said that the government was presenting a set of Legislation on Sexual Harassment at Workplace. "The legislation titled 'Protection from Harassment at Workplace Act' (PHWA), also includes amendments in the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CCP)", she stated. "The PHWA Act incorporates three elements. It proposes a Code of Conduct for Sexual Harassment, it calls for establishing an Inquiry Committee within an organisational set-up to deal with complaints regarding sexual harassment, and it also provides for Appellate Authority to address appeals related to harassment", she said. The Minister said that the PHWA required the employers to implement the Act, incorporate the Code of Conduct for Protection from Sexual Harassment as a part of their management policy, and form an inquiry committee to look into sexual harassment cases. "The set of Sexual Harassment Legislation proposes amendments in Section 509 of the PPC 1860 and the CCP 1898, expanding its ambit to cover sexual harassment at work place. The amendments outline definition of sexual harassment and also increase the maximum punishment for such acts from one year to three years", she said.