Asad Umar

Changes to 18th Amendment ought to be discussed with a free heart: Asad Umar

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Changes in 18th Amendment must be discussed with an open heart: ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning Asad Umar said that certain differences have arisen in post-18th Amendment scenario related to cooperation between the Center and provinces, so introducing improvements in it must be discussed with an open heart. Asad Umar


Excluding the likelihood of a minus-one method, the minister said the PTI could be expelled by minus-one, but in the presence of the majority of PTI, no one could evict Imran Khan under any minus method since it belonged to him with 99 per cent voting balance.


“The 18th Amendment and the NFC Award would mirror one another as roles will be allocated according to the share of capital. Both the 18th Amendment and the NFC Award would be addressed with an open heart at the national level, “Asad Umar said in an exclusive interview with The News.


The minister said communication problems existed and it was understood after the meetings of the NCOC. He said if the exact health facilities are not well planned then how the preparation might be achieved to counter COVID-19 pandemic.


Once asked about minus-one rule, he stated he didn’t know where it came from. “Why would you oust Imran Khan under some other system when he belongs to the 99 percent PTI voting bank?” he questioned? He said he has been thinking for the last 12 years to minus-one, because there was minus-one rule when Asif Ali Zardari was president during the PPP dictatorship. When Nawaz Sharif came to power, the trend began, and now Imran Khan has come to power and the same phenomenon continues.


Asad Umar said politicians had to television debates on Geo and other TV channels during the US presidential election process, so Pakistani citizens should learn how to call and handle each other. “In their referendum process, the same is achieved in the UK,” he announced. The minister said the Parliament was working in Pakistan and there was little to think about.


To a query that why the PTI ministers openly took out disagreements, the minister said everybody knew about Shahbaz and Nisar’s and Nisar ‘s relationships with other PML-N ministers, but they did not publicly criticize one another. He said the PTI is a political group in which everybody talks from the center of their hearts. “This is all like a storm in a teacup, otherwise our governance is far better than the PML-N,” he claimed.


Once asked to list separate changes initiated by the PTI during its reign, he stated the much strengthened Pakistan Post Office and simplified the service of the ports. He said that three mega hydel power schemes, including Dasu, Mohmand, and Diamer-Bhasha dams, were under development for the first time in the country ‘s history. He said the government had approved land acquisition of more than Rs100 billion, and now the dam will be completed by 2027. To another query regarding the ongoing conflict between Gilgit-Baltistan and the KP government on property dispute where the Bhasha Dam power generation will be carried out in such a way that property determination will finalize royalty rights, the minister said he chaired the committee and had done his research. However, he said there will be elections due in GB and when their new government falls into force then the decision on this topic will be taken.


Once asked to the Planning Commission regarding restructuring strategy, the minister said there was no restructuring program being discussed, but attempts were under way to create a strong talented squad. He said that while it was functioning under Mehboobul Haq, Prime Minister Imran Khan decided to turn the Planning Commission on a 60s pattern. Upon completing numerous IMF services, he said the Ministry of Finance took up the leadership role in policymaking under the IMF programme. He said he will now improve the Ministry of Planning by building a strong squad.


He said the government agreed to employ a separate pay scale (SPS) chief economist for the Planning Commission and statistician head for the Pakistan Statistics Bureau (PBS). It is important to note here that these two primary positions were empty for many years and could not be filled in the PTI law of the last two years.


The minister was also asked about the cash bleeding power sector by inquiring how it would be fixed, he replied that the problems in the power sector could not be fixed in haste without placing a market-based mechanism. He said that to add performance, the best people will need to be recruited at the Gencos and Discos rates.


Nonetheless, the ministry said it will occupy these two primary positions during the first quarter of the current fiscal year. To another issue concerning restoration of maximum economic operation in the post-COVID-19 pandemic scenario, He said it would be difficult to forecast, but it was the best policy put in place by Pakistan ‘s government as the countries that followed a severe lockdown method or those that eased down entirely, all faced challenges, but Pakistan embraced smart lockdowns that went really well. He said it was the government’s deliberate decision to open up the export market first, since the government realized the country couldn’t risk a sharp decline in its export earnings.


The minister said they have recently reviewed the IMF projections and the Fund has changed its outlook for Pakistan from pessimistic to positive 1 per cent for the current fiscal year. He claimed it all occurred because of a clever lockout push forward strategy.


Asad Umar said Pakistan will not obtain any relief in the Net Present Value (NPV) owing to international community debt relief as such loan payments have been postponed for a certain period but have not been suspended. He said Pakistan will have to stand on its own foot to recover its economy as everyone was struck by this pandemic. The minister also claimed the Ministry of Planning used about 80 percent construction funding given the COVID-19 pandemic, which indicated that the usage stayed higher than the last six years.