The federal cabinet on Tuesday decided to launch the second phase of Ehsaas Cash Emergency Programme to mitigate the sufferings of weaker and vulnerable segments of the society. Briefing media here about the decisions taken by the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz said in the first phase after imposition of lockdown in the wake of coronavirus outbreak, Rs 150 billion were disbursed among the deserving vulnerable families without any political discrimination in a transparent manner for which the Ehsaas programme had been commended internationally. He said the prime minister directed Adviser for Finance Hafeez Shaikh for starting preparations for the second phase of the Ehsaas Emergency Cash programme so that the poor segments of the society could be provided financial assistance. About dealing with the challenge of Covid-19 pandemic, Shibli Faraz said the government has formulated strict rules and regulations to avoid spread of the coronavirus and the district administrations have been directed to ensure implementation of the special precautionary measures for the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced to celebrate Eid-ul-Azha at his residence and has also appealed to the people to celebrate the occasion by staying at their homes, instead of mixing with others. He said some political parties had tried to make handling of coronavirus a political issue. Imran Khan kept on reminding that several countries having robust economies and the modern health infrastructure failed to cope with the pandemic, which proved that he had adopted a successful policy, he added. Shibli Faraz said the National Command and Operation Centre, the nerve centre of entire activity against the coronavirus, has been appreciated worldwide where facts and figures were analyzed on a daily basis and future decisions were made on their basis. It was a big achievement that Pakistan had only two corona testing labs in February, which have now increased to 129. At the time of the outbreak of pandemic, there was a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), but now the indigenously manufactured PPE are being exported from Pakistan, he added. He said Imperial College’s study has proved that Pakistan’s strategy to cope with the pandemic was successful as the graph of Covid-19 patients was falling now. He said despite the economic losses due to the coronavirus, the government presented a tax-free budget for which the federal cabinet appreciated the performance of Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance Abdul Hafeez Sheikh. As regards the pilots issue, the minister said the government is taking measures to ensure safe air travel as well as strengthen the engineering side of the Pakistan International Airlines. About 28 pilots of the PIA having faked and dubious licenses have been dismissed from service, with an action started against the officials of PIA and Civil Aviation Authority responsible for issuing fake licenses. He read out a statement, which stated, “28 pilots, whose licenses were found suspect and against whom disciplinary proceedings were completed, have been dismissed from service. Proceedings against the remaining are continuing and will be expedited: both disciplinary and criminal proceedings. Those, whose licenses were found suspect in the inquiry, have all been grounded. All others are cleared. All stakeholders both domestic and international have been informed. Actions have been initiated against those culpable-both in PIA and CAA. Incidentally, all those suspect licenses were issued from 2010 to 2018 during the PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) and PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz) governments and it is evident that they corrupted the system to do so. This government believes in reforming the systems, institutions, and to expose and take action against such organized mafia. This would continue without fear or favour. The government has already started the process to reform PIA and CAA.” Shibli Faraz said the cabinet was given an update on the implementation of the recommendations of the Sugar Inquiry Commission. Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar told the meeting that the Sugar Reform Committee has been constituted, which will monitor the entire supply chain from sugarcane purchase to supply of sugar to the markets, and help supply of sugar at affordable prices to the consumers. He said the cabinet also discussed a strict law to control money laundering, which had badly affected national exports and exports, and resulted in flight of capital from the country in the past. The cabinet, Shibli said, gave approval to the appointment of Rahat Konain Hassan, Shumaila Lone and Mujtaba Lodhi as members of the Competition Commission of Pakistan for three years. It also approved Rahat Konain as CCP chairperson.