Islamabad;The Federal Cabinet approved a new revolutionary civil aviation policy to pro-actively promote tourism and give boost to aviation industry in the country.
Briefing media persons about the decisions made in the cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan on 26 March 2019, Federal Minster for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said traveling to the tourist resorts of Pakistan will be facilitated by reducing travel expenditures. Fawad Hussain said facilities, including reduction in traveling expenses and cuts in taxes, worth Rs 3.8 billion would be offered to promote tourism and aviation sector.
He said the Cabinet also discussed to start helicopter and 40-seat plane service to the tourist sites in the country including Gilgit-Baltistan and Swat. The purpose for this initiative, was to provide benefits to local aviation industry,” he said, adding that it was necessary to improve travel facilities to the country’s tourist locations to attract elite tourism. The minister announced that passenger airlines in Pakistan will be allowed to import aeroplanes which are 18-years-old compared to the previous limit of 12 years while cargo planes up to 30 years old, could be imported.
New recommendations with regards to aviation also included charges on flight kitchens being abolished, and a recommendation to reduce taxes on domestic routes, he added. The minister also announced a special initiative by CAA of paying up to Rs 400,000 in fees for women to attract them for becoming pilots.
Chaudhry Fawad said that the government has decided to end the country’s open sky policy which proved to be disastrous for PIA. Most of the profitable routes were given to international airlines which led to huge loss for PIA, he said and added that all agreements with international airlines would be reviewed.
He said a new visa regime has already been introduced under the Prime Minister’s vision to promote tourism. He said under a pilot project E-Visa facility was being provided to five countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom. He said people from 58 countries could get visa on arrival, while 170 other countries will be given E-visa facility soon. The minister said that foreigners will no more need to have No Objection Certificate (NOC) to move across the the country.
Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said the Cabinet also approved Rs 2 billion Ramzan package to provide relief to people during the holy month and the subsidy would be given on daily-use items on Utility Store Corporation.
Speaking about Kartarpur Corridor, the Minister informed media persons that the corridor will be opened for the Sikh community to travel to the Kartarpur shrine by November this year. He said in order to ensure the required arrangements and facilitate the Sikh pilgrims, a 10-member Pakistan Gurdawara Parbandhak Committee has been constituted.
The minister said that the cabinet also allowed construction of high-rise buildings in the Capital and for this purpose, there would be no need of obtaining the NOC from Capital Development Authority. To a question, he expressed the confidence that Pakistan would fulfill the conditions of Financial Action Task Force by September.
Commenting on the Supreme Court’s decision of granting six-week bail to Nawaz Sharif on medical grounds, he said the government respected the court decision. However, the narrative of Nawaz Sharif had been exposed as there was no illness but just mental tension in the prison, he added. He said that Prime Minister had already offered Nawaz Sharif to have treatment from a doctor and hospital of his choice and he was even offered to call a doctor from abroad. Speaking on the possibility of a plea bargain with Nawaz Sharif, the minister said there was a law for this and money stolen from the public had to be returned.
His legal counsel should give Nawaz Sharif the right legal advice, which was to return the looted people’s money, he added. Chaudhry Fawad said that the government would challenge the Lahore High Court’s decision of removing Shehbaz Sharif’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL) in the Supreme Court. He said that record of Sharif family members did show that after leaving the country they never returned.
To a question, Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said the government was ready to sit with the opposition on every issue but there would be no compromise on the process of accountability as PTI contested election on the anti-corruption slogan and it could not betray its voters.
About Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) train march being led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, he said only positive thing about it was that they had to pay for railway tickets. He said that Railways minister Sheikh Rashid had informed that Rs1.1 million was paid for the train journey.
Fawad Chaudhry asked people of Sindh and neutral lawmakers to take note that money in the province share of the NFC award, was being sent abroad. He said there would be a wave of change Sindh soon.
He said that the PPP nominated the main accused in fake accounts case Faryal Talpur and Sherjeel Inam Memon as members of the Public Accounts Committee of the province which tantamount to making mockery of the accountability system. The minister said that it seemed that PPP and PML-N had adopted the corruption as their political ideology, and they were following it.