Renovation work on Peshawar airport to be completed this year: Senate told

Renovation work on Peshawar airport to be completed this year: Senate told

The Senate was informed on Tuesday that renovation work on Peshawar Airport is being carried out speedily and will be completed during this year.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Shaikh Aftab Ahmad told the House during question hour that three billion rupees have been allocated for this purpose.

He pointed out that the major expansion and remodelling of terminal building has been underway since February last year. It will provide world class facilities and comfort to the passengers.

To a question, the Minister said the PIA has floated tenders for acquiring four wide-body and four narrow-body aircraft on dry lease.

To a question, Minister of State for Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) Tariq Fazal Chaudhary told the House that there are violations of agreement under which 13.5 acres land was provided by Capital Development Authority (CDA) for the construction of Grand Hyatt Hotel near Convention Centre Islamabad.

He said under the agreement, a five-star hotel will be built but the owner built apartments and sold to the public. He said that is why the agreement has been cancelled and the building is sealed.

Replying to a question, Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan informed the House that national interests will be fully guarded while negotiating free trade agreements (FTAs) with Turkey and Thailand and reviewing the FTA with China.

He pointed out that these will improve Pakistan's competitiveness and helps enhance country's exports.

The Minister said the Prime Minister has recently announced a substantive package of 180 billion rupees for exporters, which will help raise textile exports substantially.

Khurram Dastgir Khan rejected the impression that Pak-Afghan Transit Trade has been shifted to Iran.

He said Afghanistan has made worth 2.55 billion dollars commercial imports through Pak-Afghan Transit Trade during 2014-15, which is a record.

The Commerce Minister said the government is in the process of preparing an e-commerce policy. He said a National Policy Board in this regard has been formed.

He said since the matter involves a number of issues and legislations, it will take time to finalize the policy.

Answering a question, Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid said National Forest Policy has been prepared in consultation with the provinces to protect the country from climate change impact. He said the Council of Common Interests (CCI) has already approved the policy in principle.

Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid informed the House that Dr Shakeel Afridi was involved in anti-state activities and arrested in May 2011.

He was responding to a calling attention notice moved by Maulana Hafiz Hamdullah regarding the statement of the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs that the case of Dr Shakeel Afridi is pending in the courts otherwise Government is willing to proceed further in the matter.

The Minister said Dr Shakeel Afridi was working with foreign agencies in violation of local laws. The Minister said he also greatly harmed the polio vaccination campaign and fifty polio workers have been killed as suspects of foreign agents. He said currently Dr Shakeel Afridi is under trial.

He said the United States has declared him as national hero.

Zahid Hamid said the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi during his visit to the United States conveyed during his interaction that Dr Shakeel Afridi is going through a due trial.

Responding to another calling attention notice moved by Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi regarding the out of turn allotment of plots by the Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation to sixty officers of the Islamabad Police and the District Administration which caused 389 million rupees loss to the national exchequer as the Housing Foundation compensated them under the professional quota instead of allotting them the plots from their respective cadres, Minister for Housing and Works Akram Khan Durrani told the House that there is no violation in these allotments.

The Senate today passed "The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Bill, 2016" with an amendment moved by Leader of the Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan.

Moved by Law Minister Zahid Hamid, the bill is aimed to put an end to Benami transactions.

On a point of order regarding low pressure of gas in Kalat by Mir Kabir Shahi, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told the House that there is no disruption in supply of gas to the area.

He pointed out that 0.7 thousand cubic feet gas per day is being provided to the consumers against the standard requirement of 0.3 thousand cubic feet per day.

The Minister said there is a problem of law and order situation and theft of gas at large scale in the area.

The Senate held discussion on an adjournment motion moved by Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh regarding the new amnesty scheme under consideration of the Government.

Taking part in the debate, Muhammad Azam Khan Swati and Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi opposed any amnesty scheme and said these will only promote corruption.

Winding up the debate, Minister for Law Zahid Hamid said demands for amnesty scheme have come in but nothing has been finalized so far in this regard.

He said Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry at a recent function has also stressed that an amnesty scheme for assets held abroad be announced.

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