Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif presided over a meeting of provincial cabinet here on Friday which granted approval to amendments to Drug Act 1976 and DRAP 2012. The cabinet also approved with consensus Provincial Finance Commission Award 2016 and Punjab Civil Administration Ordinance 2016 as well as endorsed the minutes of the meeting of cabinet’s Standing Committee on Finance and Development. The Punjab cabinet also decided unanimously that local government system will be enforced in the province from January 2, 2017 and local governments will come into existence on that date. The meeting decided to enhance sentences and fines on the elements involved in the nefarious trade of spurious and substandard drugs and their properties will also be confiscated. Moreover, under Civil Administration Act 2016, Deputy Commissioner Office will operate instead of District Coordination Office.
Addressing the meeting, Shehbaz Sharif said that the role of local government institutions is of vital importance with regard to solution of problems of people at local level and with the activation of local governments, service delivery to the masses will improve. He said that local governments are being activated in the province from January 2, 2017 and decision has been taken by the Punjab cabinet today with consensus.
He said that local governments will also be empowered and granted financial autonomy. He said that under Provincial Finance Commission Award 2016, a substantial increase has been made in resources of local governments and 391 billion rupees will be given to local governments whereas 274 billion rupees were given last year. As such 44 percent increase has been made in the funds of local governments compared to the last year, he added. Shehbaz Sharif said that there will be a ban on utilization of development funds under some other head and it will be spent only for development purposes.
The Chief Minister said that more resources will be given to local governments of south Punjab and backward areas than the past while equal funds will be made available to urban and rural union councils.
He said that disparity in the distribution of funds between urban and rural union councils has been removed and they will be given equal funds. He said that an equitable, transparent and comprehensive formula has been evolved under Provincial Finance Commission Award 2016 for distribution of funds whereas additional resources will be given to local governments showing good performance. He said that a regular mechanism of audit has been evolved for utilization of funds.
The Chief Minister appreciated Provincial Finance Minister Dr. Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, Secretary Finance and their entire team on devising formula of Provincial Finance Commission Award 2016. He said that under the new system mayors, chairmen district councils, deputy commissioners and DPOs will be responsible for maintenance of law and order and protection of life and property of citizens at district level while coordination committees will also be formulated for this purpose at divisional, district and tehsil levels.
He said that safety commission and police complaint authorities will also be established in the province. The Chief Minister lauded the performance of Provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, Secretary Law, Secretary Prosecution and other authorities with regard to preparation of the new system.
Shehbaz Sharif said that the elements involved in the manufacture and sale of spurious and substandard medicines are enemies of humanity and should be awarded deterrent punishment. He said that Punjab cabinet has approved today with consensus amendments in Drug Act 1976 and DRAP 2012 as a result deterrent punishments and fines will be awarded to those engaged in the heinous business of bogus and substandard medicines.
He said that manufacture and sale of spurious and substandard drugs is a crime and there is a need to make an example of those as are involved in this evil trade. He said that provincial drug monitoring teams will be constituted for rooting out this evil from the province.
He said that quality medicines are a right of patients and state-of-the-art drug testing labs are being set up by the Punjab government in different cities for this purpose. Shehbaz Sharif said that those involved in the production and sale of spurious and substandard medicines will be brought to justice and awarded deterrent punishment so that no one dare to play with innocent lives. He said that action will also be taken under the law against anyone giving wrong information about manufacture and sale of spurious medicines. The meeting also granted approval to remove houbara bustard from schedule III of Punjab Wildlife Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management Amendment Act 2007 and placing it on schedule I. The cabinet also offered Fateha for the departed soul of the father of Ahmad Yar Hunjra and sister of Mehr Ijaz Achlana. Provincial Ministers, Advisors, Special Assistants, Chief Secretary, Inspector General Police and secretaries of concerned departments attended the meeting.