LAHORE   -  The provincial cabinet endorsed key policy decisions at a meeting here on Saturday with Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar in the chair.

All provincial ministers, advisers, special advisers, Punjab chief secretary and other senior government officials were present in the meeting.

The cabinet approved restoration of the Fix Daily Allowance for the Punjab Police frozen since 2005 with the average of 2013. The Punjab Highway Patrolling Police and Traffic Wardens will also get the allowance with same percentage. The approval was also given to the Executive Allowance for the civil officers appointed on the cadre post. Now, the civil officers will get the Executive Allowance equal to 1.5 times of their basic salary. The special allowance equal to 1.5 times of the basic salary was also approved for the employees of Grade 1 to 16 of the Civil Secretariat on the instructions of the chief minister.

Following the meeting that last for several hours, Provincial Minister for Information and Culture Mian Aslam Iqbal told reporters that the Punjab Cabinet took a landmark decision to allot 120,000-acre land among farmers in 30 districts of the Punjab province under the Land Lease Policy.

The cabinet meeting also approved amendment in the Government Land Disposal Policy. The provincial cabinet approved the leasing of government land on open-auction. The decision was taken to give ownership rights of the land leased to landless famers and the farmers who will cultivate 80 percent of the land will get ownership rights.

“These uninhabited pieces of land had been given to farmers for long period of time and farmers inhabited this land but they could not get the reward. Now, this land will be allotted to them,” the minister said. “A mechanism has been framed and every District Collector has determined value of the land. Farmers will be allotted pieces of land up to 12.5 acre.”

The minister said that a comprehensive principle for state land disposal policy has also been approved. Now, practice of allotment of land on the basis of likes and dislikes has also been abolished. Discretionary powers of any minister or officer have also been abolished and transparent mechanism has also been formulated which will thereby end litigation process, he said.

The Revenue Department used to irritate common man regarding giving land on lease. “But now common man will get benefit under the new policy, he added. Policy has also been chalked out regarding temporary farming of land on lease basis. This policy was halted since 2016but now it has been extended till 2020.

The provincial cabinet also decided that the term of lease will be of three years instead of one-year. Lease holders can get their lease extended on payments of their outstanding dues.

Provincial Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal stated this while addressing a press conference at DGPR office. The minister said that the provincial cabinet also granted approval of complete package in order to make up for the loss being incurred due to recent rains, storms and hail storms.

He said that at least 55 villages of 26 districts have been declared as calamity-hit and the villagers in these areas are exempted from Abiyana and Malia (water tax). The minister said that the approval was also granted to restore daily fix allowance for the police with the same percentage of year 2013.

“Punjab government while remaining confined to its limited resources has decided to enhance allowances of police keeping in view the sacrifices being laid down in the war against terrorism,” the minister said.

He also announced that more than Rs 10billion additional expenditure would be incurred annually on increasing the allowances for the 185,248 police officials of Grade 1 to 11. Similarly, Rs 208 billion will be spent on increasing allowances of 22464 police officials ranging from grade 12 to grade 16. Also, Rs0.26 billion will be spent on increasing allowances of more than one thousand police officers ranging from grade 17 to grade 22.

Also, the approval was accorded to enhance the allowances of civil secretariat staff. The provincial cabinet also granted approval of tourism policy under which special privileges will be granted to private investors and the concerned ministry will frame a policy for this purpose. Approval was also given for nomination of board members of PHA Sialkot.

The minister while responding to questions said that clear verdict of the Lahore High Court is available regarding holding a procession on the Mall Road. “Rallies and processions cannot be allowed on the Mall Road according to clear judgment of the Lahore High Court. The real aim of the opposition parties to hold protest is to conceal their corruption. But their loot and plunder has come to light before the general public,” the minister said.

He said that no one is above the law. “All prisoners should be equally treated according to the Jail Manual. If someone gets facility in jail after committing a crime then the justice system cannot run properly,” he said.

Referring to ousted PM Nawaz Sharif, the minister said that in order to serve the leader of a political party about 20 doctors remain present in jail all the time.

“The criminal justice system cannot be run on the basis of discrimination between rich or poor, cast, colour or creed. Law is equal for everyone and everyone should be treated equally. If the practice of serving someone with special food, giving special doctor and permission for special visitors, then Jail Manual should be changed altogether,” he said.

The minister said that government has decided to fix the price of Roti (bread) at Rs 6 and Naan will be sold at Rs12. The 20-kg flour bag will be available in the market at Rs 770. “If the shopkeepers would try to increase the prices then law will come into action,” he warned. He said that he would ensure selling of essential items at fixed rates and notification regarding price of sugar will be issued this week.

The cabinet also approved the allotment of the government land for landless farmers of Cholistan. The land will be given in a transparent manner and a scrutiny committee has been approved for this purpose. The meeting also approved the land in the Cholistan area of Sadiqabad Tehsil for PPL for oil exploration.

The chief minister also directed to officials to assess the damage to crops caused by floods in some parts of Jhelum. The cabinet also decided to introduce the grading system for the Matric, Fsc and FA exams in phases.

The implementation of the first phase of the grading system has been approved. The chief minister said the grading system is an important measure towards uniform education system. “We will introduce a system that will enable our students to compete at the international level,” the chief minister was quoted as saying. The chief minister said that a committee had been constituted to review the implementation of the second and third phases of the grading system.

The cabinet meeting also approved the audit report prepared by the Auditor General of Pakistan for the Punjab government accounts for the financial years of 2016-17 and 2018-19. The audit report will be presented in the Punjab Assembly. The recommendations of the committee formed by the chief minister were also approved. The minutes of the 13th and 14th meetings of the cabinet were affirmed. The decisions of the 10th and 11th meetings of the Cabinet Standing Committee for Finance and Development were also endorsed.