The Punjab government has decided to conduct this year’s budget session at a local hotel considering the safety of assembly members in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The budget in this regard has been set aside from the government fund for assembly affairs.
The decision was made during the 36th meeting of the Standing Committee for Finance headed by the Finance Minister, Hashim Jawan Bakht.
The meeting, attended by the advisor to Chief Minister for Finance, Dr. Salman Shah, Secretary Finance, Abdullah Sumbul, and others, also extended the tax exemption to cinemas till June 30.
The Standing Committee also approved to rename Civil Hospital Bahawalpur to Victoria Hospital Bahawalpur.
Two agendas of reimbursement of medical charges for liver transplant abroad were also discussed.
The minister objected that when the liver transplant facility was available in the province at Punjab Kidney and Liver Institute (PKLI) then why the permission for treatment from abroad was sought. He also ordered to find out the reason why the PKLI was not working at its full capacity.
Bakht observed that treatments from abroad are an extra burden on the treasury.
Furthermore, he also rejected the planning and development department’s demand for allowing the utility allowance to the Grade-20 and above officers.
The government will not give any further privileges to already privileged class at the time of crisis.
The minister said that prevention of the deadly virus and rehabilitation of lockdown-affected people, who can’t feed their family twice a day, are our foremost priorities.
He asked the Chairman of Planning and Development and Secretary Finance to avoid such proposals during the COVID crisis.
The meeting also decided to ensure the implementation of COVID-19 SOPs during the budget session at a private hotel, as well as, checking the body temperature of MPAs before entering the hall for the session.