Federal Cabinet rejects proposal to hike prices of medicines

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet has rejected a summary seeking government’s approval for raising the retail prices of medicines.

The federal cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was held in Islamabad on Tuesday.

The health ministry has sent a summary to the federal cabinet suggesting an increase in the retail prices of 10 medicines but the cabinet rejected the proposal.

The cabinet members were of the view that medicine prices could not be increased.

It has been learnt that Prime Minister Shehbaz categorically stated that he did not support the price hike with regard to medicines.

The prime minister tasked Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, Minister for Food Security Tariq Bashir Cheema, Maritimes Affairs Minister Faisal Sabzwari, Commerce Minister Syed Naveed Qamar, and Advisor on Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan Affairs Qamar Zaman Kaira to work towards improving coordination among provinces regarding the price of wheat and distribution of urea.

With multiple agenda items on the table, the cabinet discussed the matters including Hajj overbooking inquiry, mutual legal assistance with other countries, energy performance standards, legislative cases, and approval of the decisions of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC).

On the inquiry report regarding the overbooking of Hajj pilgrims, the cabinet, however, ruled out any charges of malicious intention.

The inquiry committee that comprised representatives of finance and religious affairs ministries, and the State Bank of Pakistan, reported that the banks after the overbooking had compensated the pilgrims.

The prime minister directed the finance ministry and SBP to question the banks over such negligence.

He also issued a directive to SBP to keep their branches situation in the flood-affected areas open during holidays and weekly offs.

The cabinet approved the summary of the Interior Ministry to accept applications for Mutual Legal Assistance from the countries which have no written agreement of legal cooperation with Pakistan.

On the recommendation of the Ministry of Science and Technology, the cabinet approved the extension of the minimum energy performance standards of electric fans up till June 30, 2023. The prime minister emphasized improving the quality of the products before the deadline.

The federal cabinet approved September 2 decisions of the Cabinet Committee on Legislative Cases including amendments to Rule-13 of Bio-Study Rules 2017, amendments to Section-15 of Emigration Ordinance 1979, and amendment to Gas (Theft Control and Recovery) Act-2016.

It also approved the amendment to the service rules of the post of Secretary, Evacuee Trust Property Board.

Also, the inclusion of solar equipment, electric motors, and power transformers has been made mandatory in the list of Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority.

The cabinet also approved a summary regarding reaching an agreement with the member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization for collaboration in the agricultural field.

The agreement will be signed during Prime Minister Shehbaz’s visit to Uzbekistan.

It is pertinent to mention here that the meeting of the SCO member countries will be held in Uzbekistan from Sept 15-16 with the help of Shanghai.

Besides this, an inquiry report regarding Hajis’ booking in the government quota was also presented before the cabinet.

The federal cabinet gave approval to the decisions of ECC including funds amounting to Rs540 million in favour of Utility Stores Corporation for the provision of essential commodities in flood-hit areas.

The other ECC decisions include allocation of PASCO’s local and imported wheat stock among recipient agencies; transfer of amount to Afghanistan government on functioning, maintenance, and salaries of three Pakistani hospitals, and allocation of Rs3 billion funds to National Disaster Management Authority for providing relief to flood-hit people.