Tuesday Dec 01, 2020
ISLAMABAD: The Cabinet has approved allocating a sum worth $150 million for the coronavirus vaccine, sources informed Geo News on Tuesday, during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
According to the sources, the Cabinet green-signaled a recommendation to vaccinate health workers and people over 65 years of age in the first phase.
Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar had said a day earlier that the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) had finalised recommendations for the procurement of the coronavirus vaccines.
The proposals were developed by a task force of experts headed by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Dr Faisal Sultan, he had said.
Scores of volunteers from across Pakistan flocked to research hospitals over the past few days to join the final-stage clinical trials of a Chinese-made vaccine for coronavirus — marking the first time the country has participated in such a trial.
The coronavirus vaccine is being developed by CanSinoBio and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology China as multiple Western pharmaceutical companies issued a string of positive vaccine announcements this month.
In addition, the Opposition-led Pakistan Democratic Movement's (PDM) recent jalsa in Multan also came under discussion during the Cabinet's meeting, the sources said, adding that some ministers raised the issue of the Punjab government's shortcomings.
There was no need for obstruction and rounding up the Opposition leaders and political workers, some of the cabinet members opined. They said there was no need for expediency if arrests were to be made.
However, if the government did not intend to make arrests, then the Opposition leaders should be let free, they added.
The Cabinet during its meeting today also approved the immediate implementation of the castration law for rapists and paedophiles, the sources said, adding that the matter was brought under discussion once again.
Members of the Cabinet agreed that there was no need to seek the opinion or willingness of international organisations for the punishment of castration sexual abusers.
Those accused of abusing children and women did not deserve any leniency, they opined.
The approval to privatise the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) — which sacked more than 4,500 employees last week — and golden handshakes to the employees of the state-owned steel and heavy metal producer was also given during the Cabinet meeting earlier today, the sources said.
The Cabinet members agreed on the timely completion of the Naya Pakistan Housing Authority, Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project in Lahore, as well as the Bundle Island — which, along with Buddu Island, is located along Karachi's coast and was acquired by the federal government.
All three projects guaranteed Pakistan's development and prosperity, the federal cabinet opined.
The sources also said Pakistan's political, economic, and coronavirus situation was also discussed during the Cabinet meeting, wherein several items on the agenda were approved.
Moreover, PM Imran Khan sought a briefing on gas shortages and prices at the next Cabinet meeting.
It was earlier reported that the today's Cabinet meeting was expected to discuss Pakistan's diplomatic relations with France.
The diplomatic ties between Pakistan and France had been affected ever since Prime Minister Imran Khan slammed French President Emmanuel Macron over his anti-Muslim attitude, criticising him for hurting the sentiments of millions of Muslims around the world.
The government of Pakistan has since then been under pressure to boycott French products as a form of protest.
President Macron's comments had come in response to the beheading of a teacher for showing controversial cartoons.
Aside from France, the Cabinet was also supposed to be briefed on the progress at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation's (OIC) latest moot and was expected to review an agreement between Pakistan Navy Engineering College and the Yildiz Technical University in Turkey.