PTA to launch biometric system for issuance of SIMs, NA told


Islamabad: The National Assembly was informed Wednesday that the government has geared up efforts to recover outstanding electricity bills from the provincial departments.

Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali told the House during question hour that directives have been issued to the provincial departments to pay the electricity bills or their connections will be disconnected.

He said one hundred billion rupees are receivable from KESC while fifty billion rupees are outstanding against Sindh government.

To a question‚ he said a number of steps such as conversion of oil based plants to coal and installation of plants on hydel sources are being taken to eliminate the issue of circular debt which currently stands at 157 billion rupees.

Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecommunication Anusha Rahman Khan told the House that the Universal Service Fund is only being used to provide telecommunication services in un-served and remote areas.

She said Pakistan Telecommunication Authority is working to launch next year biometric system for issuance of verified SIMs. She said that last year a campaign was started to verify the SIMs and under this process ten million SIMs have been verified.

Minister for Industries and Production Ghulam Murtaza Khan Jatoi said efforts are being made to enhance production capacity of Pakistan Steel Mills from current 12 percent to 80 percent to reduce its losses.

He said that 26 percent shares of Pakistan Steel Mills will be privatized after getting the 80 percent production target. He said a purification plant is being installed in the Steel Mills to utilize the Iron-ore discovered from Balochistan.

Minister of State for Housing and Works Usman Ibrahim told the House that twenty-five thousand applications have been received for Bhara Kahu housing scheme. An amount of 492 million rupees received from the applicants is lying with the bank.

He said the work on multi-storey apartment scheme in Sector G-13 will be started after getting NOC from Capital Development Authority.

To a question‚ Minister of State for National Health Services‚ Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar informed the House a policy is under consideration to rationalize the prices of drugs.

She said manufacturing of generic drugs is being encouraged as by and large these cheaper than the branded drugs.

About seventy-six thousand drugs are registered in the country and efforts are underway to grant new licenses to increase the production of drugs.

Regarding the prevalence of AIDs cases‚ the Minister of State for Health said that the number of AIDs patients in the country stands at one hundred thousand people and due to the stigma attached with the disease the number of patients registered under the AIDs programme are only 7819.

She said global fund provides funds for the AIDs programme and fourteen community home based centres have been established in the four provinces for the treatment of AIDs patients.

Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Muhammad Yusuf said religious scholars from all schools of thought are being taken on board to avert incidents of sectarian violence.

Meanwhile, Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Chaudhary Muhammad Birjees Tahir laid before the House the report on the 2nd Biannual Monitoring on the implementation of National Finance Commission Award‚ January-June 2012.

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