Shibli-FarazThe federal cabinet on Tuesday agreed to constitute a commission under the Commission of Inquiry Act 2017, instead of a committee, to investigate the matter of Broadsheet, a UK asset recovery firm. Addressing a press conference after the cabinet meeting, Information Minister Shibli Faraz stated that the Broadsheet issue investigation is not against the government’s rivals but criminals who had a role in causing massive financial and moral loss to the nation. Last week, the minister had said the government was only interested in bringing back the looted and plundered money stashed abroad, and it would take action against the corrupt irrespective of their party affiliations. “Surrey Palace, Swiss accounts, Omni case, fake bank accounts case, all were on the radar of the committee,” he had said. Appealing to the media not to give Broadsheet issue a political touch, Shibli Faraz said that the government’s objective through the Broadsheet inquiry commission is to let the nation know how certain characters, resorted to political expediency and got NRO. To a query, the minister expressed the hope that Justice (r) Azmat Saeed Shiekh would conduct the Broadsheet investigation, otherwise there might have been a statement from him by now. He described him the best and most competent person for the job, having vast experience of NAB as well as the Supreme Court. The minister said that the opposition is raising hue and cry over his name, as they know he is an honest person and is capable of taking the matter to its logical end. He added that TORs of the commission envisaged that any institution, individual or document could be summoned and sought. To a question, Shibli said that the government has already submitted a bill in the National Assembly and is mulling a constitutional amendment to make the Senate election process transparent and it will like to place the legislative bill before the opposition. The cabinet meeting was briefed in detail regarding the constitutional amendment for open balloting in Senate elections. The minister remarked that this was the only government, which opted for this difficult path to eradicate corruption and the prime minister waged a 22-year struggle against it and wanted open hearing of the foreign funding case. He added today, those who had tried to trap PTI, had themselves got entangled in the foreign funding case. He said that Imran Khan was the only person, who launched a genuine political struggle while all others were hierarchical leaders. “When a prime minister indulges in corruption, then his ministers and advisors and bureaucrats follow suit and this goes down in the entire system,” he maintained. Advisor on Institutional Reforms and Austerity gave a detailed briefing to the cabinet regarding the institutional reforms, as proposed by the Task Force on Austerity and Restructuring of the Government, including the abolition of 70,000 vacant posts in the federal ministries and divisions and reducing the number of federal government institutions from 441 to 324. Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives briefed the cabinet regarding marked improvement in the country’s economic indicators recorded during July-December period of the current fiscal year (2020-21). The participants were told that the country’s exports, as compared to several previous years, witnessed increase during the last six months, whereas workers’ remittances also recorded an increase of US$ 2.8 billion. With US$ 2 billion increase recorded in the country’s foreign exchange reserves as compared to last year, tax collection also registered 7.9 percent increase in the month of December alone, it was told. Regarding inflation, the cabinet was told that with around 11.1% inflation last year, the rate of inflation during first six months of the current fiscal was 8.6%. The rate of inflation in the month of December remained 6.4% and was expected to come further down during the coming months. The participants were told that the exchange rate was stable whereas the country’s stock market was at the highest level after April 2018. The meeting approved the cabinet committee’s recommendations regarding bringing the National Disaster Management Fund under administrative control of the Ministry of Planning, Development, Reforms and Special Initiatives as well as the permanent administrative structure of the institution. Financial irregularities worth US$500 million have been unearthed in the NDRMF, according to a briefing given to the federal cabinet by Special Assistant to PM on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam. The SAPM said that during a probe it emerged that 40 people at NDRMF were enjoying perks and privileges equal to that of the entire ministry.