PM announces austerity measures, minister to forego salaries & perks

PM announces austerity measures, minister to forego salaries & perks

Islamabad (Web Desk): Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday announced that the austerity measures are a top priority of the incumbent government.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad alongside federal cabinet members, the premier said that the massive austerity drive at the federal government level is aimed at slashing expenditures while eyeing an ambitious plan to save Rs200 billion annually.

PM Shehbaz said that the result of such a frugal exercise would yield far-reaching effects.

He said that the federal cabinet in today’s lengthy meeting had deliberated and the members decided with their sweet will that all the federal cabinet members, advisers and special assistants would not draw salaries and other privileges.

"All members of the cabinet would pay the utility bills from their own resources and would return all the luxury vehicles which would be auctioned", PM Shehbaz said, adding that the cabinet members would use economy class during their visits abroad while their assisting staff would not be allowed to accompany them.

The prime minister further said the cabinet members during their visits abroad would not stay in the five stars hotels.

"All the division, departments, subordinates and other government entities under the federal government would slash their current expenditures by 15% whereas purchase of luxurious vehicles would be completely banned," he announced.

PM Shehbaz said that the senior officers in the federal government who had been utilizing official vehicles besides, availing the monetization scheme would return all such vehicles.

He said this practice was being immediately banned and anyone found violating the ban would be proceeded against.

"Extra security vehicles for the cabinet members would be withdrawn and a committee headed by the interior minister would decide the matter in case of threats," he said.

The TA, DA of the officials would be reduced by utilizing the telecommunication facilities like holding of zoom conferences which would be promoted to save expenditures.

The prime minister announced that all government residences in city centres will be sold, adding that no officer shall be allotted more than one plot and excess plots shall be taken back.

He said that government meetings will be preferred on video link to reduce travel expenses, adding that no new department will be constituted.

"The cabinet has decided that offices will be opened at 7:30am to save electricity in summer while energy-saving appliances will be installed in government offices," the premier said.

Under the austerity policy, only tea and biscuits will be served at places like Prime Minister House.

The premier also urged chief justices of high courts and Supreme Court and all chief ministers to adopt similar austerity measures.

Speaking about the government's ongoing talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), PM Shehbaz said that the government has fulfiled almost all prior conditions and an agreement with the global lender was expected soon.

He, however, said that IMF wanted the government to reduce subsidies, warning that a new wave of inflation might engulf the country.

PM Shehbaz Sharif's news conference comes as Pakistan is eyeing a staff-level agreement with the IMF this week which will pave the way for much-awaited credit flows from other bilateral and multilateral lenders.