April 13 , 2017

Haj Policy approved, gas connections restored

179,210 to perform Haj this year; Haj to cost Rs280,000 from north region, Rs270,000 from south region; PM rejects proposal to hike expenditure; cabinet also decides daily wagers, contractual employees to get age relaxation for govt jobs; mega housing scheme to be established for middle class; MoUs with different countries approved

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Wednesday approved the Haj Policy-2017 and also removed the moratorium on new natural gas connections.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while addressing the cabinet that met here at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), asked the Religious Affairs Ministry to review the Haj expenditures and present them before the next cabinet meeting.

The prime minister, who chaired the meeting, discarded the proposal to enhance the expenditures for the upcoming Haj and asked the ministry to ensure the maximum possible facilities for the pilgrims during the holy sojourn and their stay in the holy land. He said that maximum facilities should be provided to Hujjaj. He appreciated the efforts of the ministry to provide good facilities to Pakistani pilgrims during last Haj. The prime minister also approved the blueprint of a gigantic housing scheme for the middle class of the country on affordable basis. It would be the biggest housing scheme in the history of the country once it surfaced.

The prime minister said the government was committed to providing housing facility to the poor. “Urbanisation is continuing at a rapid pace due to development activities in the country. It is need of the hour to cater to the growing housing demand across the country,” he said. A sub-committee of the cabinet was constituted comprising Akram Khan Durrani, Minister for Housing, Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Planning and Development, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Minister for Railways, Abdul Qadir Baloch, Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron), Fawad Hasan Fawad, Secretary to PM, secretary finance, representatives of the State Bank and National Bank to work out detailed plan on housing within 10 days and present it in the next cabinet meeting.

The cabinet also approved the rules for bar-coding of medicines in the country. It will help in mitigating complaints about spurious drugs being sold in the market. The summary for the purpose was presented by the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Division. It also approved execution of gas development schemes during theThe cabinet also accorded approval of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) signed with different countries.

Briefing media persons after the meeting, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb and Minister of State for CADD Tariq Fazl Chaudhry said the cabinet also approved a policy about daily wagers and contractual employees. They said under the policy, the contractual employees working in grade one to 15 will be given relaxation in age during the regular hiring process. Similarly, they will be given extra marks based on the years they have served in the government departments during interviews. They said that those working against grade 16 and 17 will only be inducted through Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC).

Later, Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Muhammad Yousaf said Haj applications will be accepted from 17th to 26th of this month. Addressing a press briefing about the Haj Policy-2017, which was approved by the cabinet, he said a total of 179,210 pilgrims from Pakistan will perform Haj this year. He said 107,526 intending pilgrims will be selected under government Haj scheme while 71,684 will be selected though private scheme. The minister said that balloting will be conducted on 28th of this month. He said the Haj applications will be received through branches of 10 specific banks which include Habib Bank Limited, United Bank Limited, National Bank of Pakistan, Muslim Commercial Bank Limited, Allied Bank Limited, Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited, Bank Al-Falah, Meezan Bank, Bank of Punjab and Habib Metropolitan Bank Limited.

The minister said that on direction of the prime minister it has been tried to give maximum facilities to the pilgrims. He said that Hajj package 2017 for north region is Rs280,000 and 270,000 rupees for South region. He said the ministry is making endeavours to provide new model busses to the pilgrims for travelling from Jeddah to Makkah. He said supervision of Haj operation will be strengthened and complaints of the pilgrims will be addressed instantly.

Sardar Yousaf said a plan is also being prepared by the ministry to tackle any emergency situation. He said keeping in view number of the pilgrims, 540 personnel of Haj medical mission, 450 personnel of assistants pilgrims Haj, 270 personnel of seasonal staff of the ministry and welfare staff comprised of Pakistani local assistants will be deployed as per requirement.



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