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The Senate was informed on Friday that the government is giving attention to ensure quality and proper supply of medicines in the country.

Minister of State for Education and Professional Training Muhammad Balighur Rehman told the House during question hour that number of drug inspectors is being increased to ensure quality of drugs. He pointed out that during last year a number of drug licenses have been suspended and fine imposed for manufacturing substandard medicines.

To a question, the Minister of State said prices of medicines are increased as per the provisions of the Drug Pricing Policy, 2015.

He said 3272 new registration of drugs have been approved during 2015-16 out of which 360 registrations were issued to the new manufacturing license holders.

Answering a question, Minister of State informed the House that the government is given special focus on education in backward areas particularly Balochistan. He said Higher Education Commission arranges special courses in Balochistan so that the students can avail their quota of Ph.D scholarships. He said Prime Minister's Fee Reimbursement Programme is being implemented in backward areas. He said 12304 non-formal Basic Education Community Schools are functioning across the country.

To another question, Balighur Rehman said in the wake of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the National Vocational and Technical Training Commission is modifying its vocational training programme. He said it is also including teaching of Chinese language in these courses. He pointed out that 50,000 people are being given vocational and technical training during the current year and the number will be increased to one hundred thousand next year. He said less-developed areas including Sindh, South Punjab, Balochistan, FATA, Gilgit-Baltistan and some districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are being given importance in this programme.

Replying to a question, Minister for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) Abdul Qadir Baloch informed the House that there are more than 2.6 million Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia. He pointed out that total number of Pakistani workers affected in the recent incidents in Saudi Arabia was eight thousand. He said the matter was taken up at the highest level of Saudi Government and workers have been assisted for filing the civil suits for recovery of outstanding dues from defaulted companies.

The Minister said the Pakistani mission in Saudi Arabia facilitated 2200 workers to transfer employment to other companies. Around 3200 workers who wanted final exit were assisted by the mission for early return to Pakistan, free of cost. He said the government distributed 500 million rupees to around 5500 affected workers who would not get salaries for months from their companies.

Responding to a calling attention notice moved by Nehal Hashmi regarding the high fees being charged by the private educational institutions in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Minister of State for Capital Administration and Development Division (CAAD) Tariq Fazal Chaudhary told the House that Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PEIRA)regulates the private schools in Islamabad. He said PEIRA Act is being amended to resolve the increase in fees of private schools and other related matters.

The Minister of State said National Curriculum Council is working in consultation with the provinces to bring uniformity in syllabus.

He pointed out that Prime Minister's Educational Reforms Programme is being implemented in the federal capital under which 22 educational institutions have been transformed and the rest four hundred are being transformed by improving the facilities. He said initially three billion rupees are being spent for this purpose. He said under these reforms, public sector schools in Islamabad will be brought at par with private schools.

Taking part in the discussion, the members demanded early finalization of the next National Finance Commission Award (NFC) for better distribution of resources among the provinces. They said Population Census is also imperative for constituting the NFC Award. They said along with population, backwardness should also be kept in view while distributing the resources to the provinces.  They demanded increase in resources for provinces.

Those who took part in the discussion included Azam Swati, Mohsin Leghari, Saleem Mandviwala, Usman Khan Kakar, Jahanzeb Jamaldini and Taj Haider.

Winding up discussion, Minister of State for Education and Professional Training Muhammad Balighur has expressed the confidence that the next NFC Award will be announced in three to six months in consultations with the provinces.

He said for NFC Award, population census is very important and it is being conducted this year.

He pointed out that the funds from the Federal Divisible Pool are being transferred to the provinces twice in a month according to their shares. He said if consensus is created, backwardness will also be included in criteria for distribution of resources. He said Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) is being given one percent additional funds as a frontline province against terrorism according to the current NFC Award.

Balighur Rehman appreciated the proposals for establishing provincial NFC Award for equal development of different districts.

The Minister of State said as a result of measures taken by the government tax to GDP ratio has been improved and revenue collection has been increased.

The House has now been prorogued.


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