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Cabinet approves IP gas pipeline project

The federal cabinet, rejecting any external pressure, on Wednesday gave final approval to the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project. The cabinet met here with Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in the chair.

After the meeting, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira apprised the media that the cabinet considered and gave approval to an agreement between the Pakistan government with the Government of Iran on the engineering, procurement and construction work along with financing for the IP gas pipeline project (Pakistan segment).

“A committee consisting of ministers for finance, law, justice, petroleum and national resources and governor State Bank of Pakistan was formed to further analyse the project,” Kaira added.

He said the cabinet was informed that the construction of the IP gas pipeline would be completed by January 2015 and Iran would give Pakistan $500 million in two phases for the completion of the project.

The cabinet declared the IP gas pipeline project to be in the national interest, adding that the project should be completed as soon as possible. It was also decided that instead of relying on foreign aid, the project be completed through mutual cooperation.

The cabinet considered and accorded its approval to Ombudsman Institutional Reforms Bill 2013 subject to vetting by the Ministry of Law.

When asked about the tentative names for the caretaker set-up, Kaira replied that it was still under discussion and would be decided soon in accordance with the Constitution. He further said that assemblies would be dissolved before March 16 and the government was fully committed to holding free and fair elections.

AFP adds: The cabinet also approved a deal transferring from Singapore to China the management of the strategically located deep-sea Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea.China provided about 75 percent of the initial $250 million in funding for the construction of the port in Gwadar.

It is currently being operated by Singapore’s PSA International, but needs further development work to become fully operational. “The cabinet today gave approval to transfer Gwadar Port operations from Port of Singapore to Chinese Overseas Port Holdings Limited,” Kaira told reporters.

“Both the companies have settled their deal,” he said, without giving a timetable for the transfer.Kaira said that Singapore’s PSA International could not develop or operate Gwadar “as desired” and said he hoped that under a new management, the port would soon contribute to Pakistan’s flagging economy.

“The Chinese will make more investment to make the project operational,” Kaira said. NNI adds: The information minister said that the cabinet also gave approval to Strategic Trade Policy whose details will be announced today (Thursday).

He said that the cabinet was informed that during July-December 2012‚ inflation remained 7.9‚ which was the lowest in recent history of the country.He said the cabinet decided to empower the office of Ombudsman to institutionalise the process of accountability and provide speedy justice to the people. He said that the cabinet decided to give administrative and financial autonomy to the office of Ombudsman.

He said that previously eleven different departments were carrying out accountability while now all these departments have been streamlined under the office of the Ombudsman. He said that departments will be bound to provide relevant information to the office of the Ombudsman within 15 days failing which disciplinary action will be taken against them.

The minister said that the office of the Ombudsman will decide appeals within 45 days and it will also be authorised to review its decisions. He said that appeal against the Ombudsman’s decisions can only be made to the President within 120 days.Qamar Zaman Kaira said that the tenure of the office of the ombudsman will be four years and the method for his removal will be the same as that of the judges of senior judiciary.

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