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Karachi

April 17, 2018

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Sindh cabinet approves first-ever youth and agriculture policies

The Sindh cabinet met on Monday and approved new agriculture and youth policies, as well as the establishment of two new universities, Shaikha Ayaz University in Shikarpur and Begum Nusrat Bhutto Women University in Sukkur.

The agriculture policy, which was presented to the cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, has been complemented by a series of background studies in the areas of macroeconomic factors, poverty and gender, climate change, value chain enhancement, resource use efficiency, and nutrition and fiscal space utilization, in addition to consultation with farmers and stakeholders.

The time horizon of the agriculture policy would be until 2030 in view of the internationally agreed sustainable development goals. However, various legal, regulator, institutional and expenditure-related changes set out in the policy would be implemented over a period of two years, from 2018-19 to 2019-20.

Sharing some facts with the cabinet, the chief minister said that in terms of agriculture, Sindh accounted for 18 per cent of the country’s land area, and 16 per cent of its total under-cultivation area, and contributed about 23 per cent to the national agriculture value-added production.

He said the sector had not performed to its peak potential. He added that output was low in 2015/16, which led to negative agriculture growth for the first time in the country.

Shah stated that more critically, what little growth had occurred had been the result of more land, water and input, higher livestock numbers or greater fishing effort. He added that such an input-based pattern of growth was not sustainable. For example, he said, it was estimated that by 2025 the water requirements for agriculture would increase by about 50 per cent if the current irrigation practices continued.

“In coming years, enhanced productivity has to take over as the principal engine of growth,” he said.

Minister Home & Agriculture Sohail Siyal gave details of the goals to be met under the new agriculture policy. They include: increasing credit flows into crops, livestock and fisheries and for associated rural off-farm activities, including development of new instruments such as warehouse receipts and building linkages formal and informal sources of credit; simplifying the procedure for land use, land transfer and lease for establishment of rural enterprise; reforming the legal and regulatory system governing agriculture and livestock marketing and redesigning the price support system .

The policy also envisages improving legislation, regulations, labelling and quality oversight in the market for inputs, particularly for seed, fertilisers, pesticides, animal feed and veterinary medicines, as well as for the certification system for organic crops, livestock and fisheries products; attracting investors, both domestic and foreign, to rural areas through fiscal incentives; a better legal/regulatory environment for commercial farming, cold chain and agro-based industry and to promote export of high value food production; reviewing and re-allocating government expenditure on agriculture as well of direct and indirect subsidies; restru­cturing, right-sizing and rationalising concerned government departments to be made fit for purpose by avoiding duplication of efforts with improved conditions.

The authorities will seek to reform the public research and extension system for crops, horticulture, livestock and fisheries, particularly their governance mechanism. The cabinet, particularly Local Government Minister Jam Khan Shoro, emphasised the need for giving more subsidies to the agriculture sector.

Youth policy

The Sindh Youth Policy would be a central tool to systematically integrate, implement and evaluate all youth development work in the province. It aims at building a base of youths who are economically sound, socially progressive and politically and politically engaged and who possess appropriate skills and tolerant values of good citizens.

Like agriculture policy, it has been formed in consultation with all stakeholders, experts and academicians. The highlights of the youth policy include the establishment of a youth development commission; establishment of A district structure of a youth affairs department; a centralised information system on youth development and job database; formation of job bank; the establishment of Institute Placement Bureaus through IT interface; the establishment of a youth venture capital fund, an annual innovation competitions and the formation of small incubation centres at the universities; entrepreneurship training at universities by the private sector, a crash programme of technical education; research and mapping studies on youth bulge; a youth-led mass awareness campaign; devise models of elected student councils, exposure trips, reactivation of students unions, establishment of an artisan support programme, reactivation of boys and girls guides at school and such others. The cabinet discussed various aspects of the policy and approved it.

Two new varsities

The provincial cabinet also decided to upgrade the Shikarpur campus of Shah Abdul Latif University to full-fledged university. The new university has been named after the late Shaikh Ayaz, a renowned poet and educationist from Shikarpur. The cabinet approved the draft of Shaikh Ayaz University, Shikarpur Act, 2018, and referred it to the Sindh Assembly for approval.

The cabinet also approved the establishment of Begum Nusrat Bhutto Women University through a draft bill, 2018. The university is being established at a cost of Rs2,710.6 million in Sukkur. The land for the university has been donated near the Arts Council, Sukkur, and its compound wall has been constructed.

The construction work is in progress and its vice chancellor, Parveen Munshi, has been assigned to look after the establishment work. The approved draft bill has been referred to the Sindh Assembly.

Prosecutors

The cabinet approved the appointment of Ayaz Hussain Tunio as new prosecutor general. In the last cabinet meeting, Faizul Hassan was appointed but his notification was stopped as he was younger than the required age of 45 years. The law department had proposed three names, Ayaz Hussain Tunio, Qurban Ali Malano and Hakim Ali Shaikh. The cabinet approved the appointment of Ayaz Tunio.

Judicial officer

The cabinet on the recommendation of the chief justice of the Sindh High Court repatriated Mushtaq Ahmed kalwar, district & sessions judge working as presiding offcier, Sindh Labour Court No.VI, Hyderabad, and approved the nomination of Abrar Hussain F Memon, district and sessions judge, presently working as presiding officer, Sindh Labour Court No. VIII, Larkana, in place of Mushtaq Ahmed Kalwar, The cabinet requested the chief justice of the Sindh Court to nominate a presiding officer for Sindh Labour Court No.VIII, Larkana, which has fallen vacant.

NTS teachers

The Sindh Assembly passed a bill regarding the regularisation of NTS-pass teachers appointed on a contract basis and sent a summary to the governor on February 26, 2018, for his assent.

However, the governor returned the bill with the observation that the contractual appointments of teachers under policy of 2008/2012 were made to address the issue of the non-availability of teachers at union council/taluka levels. These appointments were thus made area-specific.

The passage of the bill categorically killed the spirit of the policy which was meant to revive the teacher-deprived schools of far-flung areas of Sindh. The cabinet after addressing the observations made by the governor referred the bills back to the assembly to pass it again. It decided that the teachers’ transfers/postings would be made in such a way that no school would be deprived of teachers.

Bus pilot project

The transport department moved an item for approval of the cabinet regarding a fare slab for the operation of AC buses on intra-city routes in the city.

Transport Minister Syed Nasir Shah told the cabinet that the fare had been proposed in consultation with all the stakeholders at Rs20 for less than five kilometers, Rs30 for five to 15 kilometers and Rs40 for 15 and above kilometers.

The cabinet approved the fare slab and urged the minister to start the buses. The cabinet also made some amendments in the Sindh Sports Board. Earlier, it was headed by the governor and now it would be chaired by the chief minister while the minister for sports would be its vice chairman.

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