The meeting of the Senate Functional Committee on Government Assurances was held on Friday in Parliament House.
The meeting was chaired by Senator Kamil Ali Agha. Members who attended the meeting included Senator Dr. Muhammad Hamayun Mohmand, Senator Shamim Afridi, and senior officers from the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications along with all concerned. Senator Muhammad Tahir Bizenjo and Senator Syed Muhammad Sabir Shah were special invitees. The Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Muhammad Khan was also present.
In the meeting, the Committee took up assurances given by Minister in-Charge for Cabinet Division in response to a question asked by Senator Muhammad Tahir Bizenjo on non-provision of 4G services in some parts of UC Salhad, Tehsil and District Abbotabad. It was also briefed on an assurance given by the then Minister of Interior regarding maintenance works of category-II, government accommodation I-8 Islamabad and an assurance given by the then Minister of Finance and Revenue regarding ATM machine installation outside National and MCB raised by Senator Syed Sabir Shah.
Discussing non-provision of 4G services in some parts of UC Salhad, Tehsil and District Abbotabad the Committee was assured of the support of the Ministry and was informed that 50 percent of the job had been completed and more is being done to ensure all areas are covered. The Committee raised the issue of non-connectivity of other networks in remote areas besides Ufone. The Committee was informed that according to service contracts once service obligations are fulfilled, the Ministry cannot be forced to install more towers. The decision of telecom companies is based on business viability. The Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Muhammad Khan was of the view that all service providers must be impelled to provide 4G connections, regardless of tower numbers.
Regarding maintenance works of category-II, government accommodation I-8/1 Islamabad the Committee was informed that the repair and maintenance of residential and non-Residential Government buildings is being carried out through Maintenance Grant allocated by the Government of Pakistan in the annual budget, which is released in four quarters. Separate lapsable accounts have been assigned for different buildings; however paucity of funds is a major cause for delay. The Committee enquired the procedure for work transfers from one department to another in this case namely from Pakistan Works Department (PWD) to Capital Development Authority (CDA). It stressed the need for formulation of policies regarding swapping of work and directed that details of the criteria followed for the repair and maintenance of the said government residences must be submitted to the Committee.
Regarding ATM machine installation outside National and MCB and being made operational 24/7; the Ministry of Finance informed the Committee that the matter was taken up with State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). In response, SBP vide letter dated 02 September, 2021 informed the Ministry of compliance.
The Committee lauded the efforts of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs for a comprehensive presentation on the rules and provisions covering functions of the Committee on Government Assurances. While deliberating over rules and regulations the Committee opined that certain amendments were needed to ensure that commitments are met. The Committee stressed the need for follow-up despite the presence or absence of the mover.