PM austerity steps: A landmark initiative to reduce burden on exchequer

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: The massive austerity measures announced by Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif are being termed a need of the hour to overcome the prevailing economic crisis and would surely help reduce the economic burden on the national exchequer.

The decision of members of the federal cabinet not to draw salaries, allowances and other perks and privileges was largely hailed by people from a cross section of the society in Khyber Pakthunkhwa and declared it a major step forward in the right direction to give support to an under-stressed economy. Ikhtair Wali Khan, PMLN KP Spokesman and former Member Provincial Assembly told APP on Thursday that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his cabinet members have set a great example for others to follow and expressed the hope that all provinces would replicate it in letter and spirit for the best interest of Pakistan.

He claimed that Imran Khan’s government had left behind economic landmines for the coalition government after seeing that his game was over. He said Imran Khan Govt has artificially kept prices of the petroleum products and dollars low as compared to international market rate, resulting in an extraordinary burden on the country’s economy and increasing price-hike and inflation.

“The Imran Govt did not know how to run the economy and changed several finance ministers. When the PTI Govt ruined the national economy and ran out of money, the incompetent rulers of PTI escaped by dissolving the KP and Punjab assemblies,” he claimed. He further claimed that when Imran Khan realised that his government will not survive any longer, he badly damaged all important sectors including energy, water, agriculture and economy so much that it will take years to recover. “It was clearly written in the contract Imran Khan made with the IMF in 2019 that the subsidy on petrol would be abolished.” He said the coalition government was left with no viable option but to renegotiate with the IMF for revival of the said agreement to save the country from an imminent bankruptcy and default.
To overcome the massive inherited economic damages, he said the coalition government took bold decisions for revival of the national economy without taking their political outcome into consideration and the Prime Minister’s massive austerity measures would greatly help slash expenditures besides saving Rs200 billion annually for Govt kitty. Senior economist and financial expert, Ms Sumbal Riaz highly appreciated all members of the federal cabinet for their key decision to pay utility bills from their own resources and return all the luxury vehicles, use economy class during abroad travelling and not to stay in five stars hotels in foreign visits besides slashing of current expenditure by 15 percent by all the federal government’s divisions, departments, subordinates and other government entities.

She said imposition of ban on purchase of luxurious vehicles, withdrawal of extra security vehicles from the cabinet members, reduction of TA/DA allowances of the officials, establishment of a single treasury account besides opening of government offices at 7.30am during the summer season would significantly help reduce expenditures and save financial resources.

Welcoming the government decision regarding non creation of new division, unit, district, or tehsil at federal level and allotment of only one plot to government servants besides single dish in official functions except for foreign dignitaries was a significant step forward to cut down expenditures. ANP leader and former environment minister Wajid Ali Khan while appreciating the PM’s austerity measures said that the PTI government has ruined the economy and energy sector and Imran Khan was responsible for the current high price hike and inflation in the country. He claimed that the improper planning and poor selection of plantation sites of the billion trees afforstration project washed away by the last year flood had exposed the PTI’s good governance claims. Wajid said the billion trees project has been taken over by the NAB which spoke volume of the Imran Khan anti corruption slogans.

Wajid Ali Khan alleged that PTI had destroyed the energy and power sector as evidence of washing away of many micro macro power stations in northern Khyber Pakthunkhwa by last year’s flood. Except BRT project, he said PTI has failed to start any mega uplift project during its last ten years rule in Khyber Pakthunkhwa.

However, he said that the ill-planned BRT corridor had turned Peshawar into a traffic jam, making the lives of Peshawarties miserable.

“The motive behind the start of Jail Bharo Tahrik by Imran Khan was to please the dissident workers and leaders of PTI, who were unnerved over premature dissolution of KP and Punjab assemblies” he said. He said the PTI leadership was known for making aimless hue and cry for political gains and reiterated that Imran Khan’s loyalists would face people’s wrath after Tosha Khan and PTI’s foreign funding scandals.

Wajid said it was behind his understanding that PTI on one side dissolved the two provincial assemblies and on other was demanding relection in these provinces besides contesting for national assembly seats in by election. The experts said that wrangling between political forces would serve no purpose rather would weaken democratic institutions and urged Imran Khan to immediately call off his uncalled for jail bharo movement and sit with the government for election reforms.( APP)