Health ministry emerges on NAB radar

The News

ISLAMABAD: Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal Tuesday took notice of 300 percent increase in drug prices countrywide and ordered an inquiry against the officials of the Ministry of National Health Services and Drug Regulatory Authority (DRA).
Justice Javed assigned Director General NAB Rawalpindi Irfan Mangi to investigate the increase in the prices of drugs and take action.
The NAB chairman directed Mangi not only to investigate 300 percent increase in drug prices, but also bring to fore all those responsible for it after detailed investigations.
Meanwhile, speaking to the media after attending the federal cabinet meeting, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said Pakistan will ink a better Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China during the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan in order to protect its local industry, as the previous agreement did not cater to the interests of local industry.
Principal Information Officer (PIO) Mian Jehangir Iqbal accompanied her.
Firdous said the cabinet had also discussed the LNG agreements signed by the previous government, which were expensive and not in the interest of Pakistan. She said the new LNG agreements would be transparent and based on competitive pricing.
The federal cabinet endorsed the policies of Prime Minister Imran Khan and his vision of democracy that is free from corruption and functions only to empower the common people and resolve their issues.
She reminded that the previous agreement signed withChina did not cater to the interests of local industry; however, due to successful diplomacy of prime minister, China had agreed to sign an FTA on the pattern of one signed with the ASEAN countries and was on much better terms.
The federal cabinet was informed that prices of drugs would be brought down after consultation with all the stakeholders. Dr Firdous said inflation during the last eight months of this government was still less compared with the corresponding period of the previous two governments.
She said the prime minister had directed all ministers to frame policies in public interest and improve their performance in order to resolve the issues faced by the public. She said the prime minister had already assigned targets to his economic team in order to create a people-friendly budget.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr. Zafarullah Mirza briefed the cabinet on his findings about increase in the prices of drugs and said a meeting with pharmaceutical companies and other stakeholders would be held soon to bring down the prices of medicines.
The additional amount charged by these companies would be recovered by the government and submitted to the Pakistan Baitul Maal. This amount will be used to provide free treatment to poor patients of various diseases.
He said the cabinet was briefed on inflation and rising prices of essential items. The cabinet decided to check prices of essential items during the holy month of Ramazan and keep an eye on hoarders and cartels.
Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood told the cabinet that 450 Pakistani businessmen will visit China to look for business opportunities which would translate into more production, job opportunities and poverty reduction in the country. He said the cabinet members congratulated the prime minister on his successful visit to Iran, which was extremely important in the present context.

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