Federal Cabinet okays proposal to devolve five ministries

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Cabinet on Wednesday approved the proposal of the Implementation Commission for devolution of five federal ministries to the provinces and relevant federal territories. This was stated by  Chairman of the Implementation Commission Senator Mian Raza Rabbani at a joint press conference along with  Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira after the Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani.Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Syed Naveed Qamar, Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Dr Farooq Sattar, Minister for Housing Rehmattulah Kakar, Awami National Party Provincial president Afrasiab Khattak were also present on the occasion.Mian Raza Rabbani said that this was for the first time in the history of the country that such an exercise of the devolution of ministries from the federation to the provinces was being done.

For the achievement of this goal the people and the provinces struggled a lot, he said adding that the 1973 Constitution was a great achievement but subsequently its federal structure was changed into one-unit and cohesive federation by the dictators.He said that the Prime Minister had chaired the meeting of the  Implementation Commission which was attended among others by all the provincial chief ministers, which approved the proposals unanimously.Raza Rabbani said that the cabinet unanimously approved the proposals and in the first phase five ministries including Zakat and Usher, Population Welfare, Youth Affairs, Local Government and Rural Development and Special Initiatives are being devolved.He said that the commission reviewed the rules of business  of the federal government for ensuring the completion of this process.He said that the cabinet had approved the changes in rules of business, which would be notified shortly.Raza Rabbani said that all the activities of the devolved ministries would be handed over to the provinces and relevant federal territories except for those which are of international nature and those tasks would be handed over to the Economic Affairs Division which would remain in contact with the provinces.

Raza Rabbani said that the Implementation Commission has decided that as per devolution plan relevant funds would also be shifted to the provinces.Rabbani said that all the quarters concerned provided full support to the commission in completion of this gigantic task. He said that at this stage it was not possible to disclose the exact number of ministries to be devolved, but added that the next phase would be completed by first week of February 2011, and if needed a third phase would be held before June 2011, the deadline fixed in the Constitution.Replying to a question he said that the Prime Minister would decide about the fate of the ministers of five devolved ministries as this was his prerogative.About creation of new provinces through 19th Amendment,he said that he did not make any commitment on this issue. However there is a method given in the Constitution and that can be adopted for this purpose, he added.To a question about the future of trade unions after the devolution of the Labour Ministry, he said that at the time of the ministry’s devolution in February next year,the matter would be taken up. However, he assured that steps would be taken to ensure that trade unions at federal level are not affected by the devolution.

Raza Rabbani appreciated the provinces for completing homework for transfer of the ministries to them. However, he said that being a huge exercise, there would be some hick-ups in the process but the federation and the provinces would overcome the same through political will.To a question, he said that all the ongoing projects would be handed over to the provinces and federal territories.He said that the no federal government employees working in the provinces, or in Islamabad would be dislocated and it would be ensured that they are accommodated at the place of their present posting.
Replying to a question, he said that overall 3,769 employees would be affected by the devolution of five ministries.Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Dr Farooq Sattar said that they were with the journalists as far as implementation of the 7th Wage Board Award.
Speaking on the occasion PML-N central leader Senator Ishaq Dar said that the passage of 18th Amendment and subsequent decision of devolution of ministries was the outcome of the historic Charter of Democracy signed between PPP Chairperson Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and PML-N Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif in 2006 – App