- Govt has formed austerity committee to cut expenses.
- FO directed to submit plan within two weeks.
- Questions raised over ballooning govt expenses.
ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office has been asked to cut down expenses in a fresh directive issued by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif amid reports of a comprehensive austerity drive being launched by the government.
According to a The News report today, the prime minister has issued instructions to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to slash down a number of foreign missions abroad and reduce their offices, staff, and other measures to cut down expenditures by 15%.
“The prime minister is pleased to direct that a well-considered proposal/ plan in this respect may please be submitted to this office within two weeks positively,” a directive issued by the PM Office reads.
This official communication titled “Rationalisation of Foreign Mission Abroad” states that in view of the ongoing economic constraints and the consequent need for fiscal consolidation and control of external deficit, the prime minister was pleased to constitute a National Austerity Committee (NAC).
The committee has recommended that the expenditure on Pakistani missions abroad may be reduced by 15%.
“This may be achieved by curtailing the number of Foreign Missions, reduction in the number of officers and staff posted there and other suitable measures,” it further stated.
There have been increasing frustrations among the political-cum-technocratic members of the federal cabinet for reluctance on the part of the government not to implement the recommendations given by the NAC which was constituted by the premier himself but so far no action got implemented.
Although Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar in his mini-budget speeches reiterated the government’s commitment to undertaking austerity steps by the PM within weeks, there was a perception that the government undertook all tough measures by hiking electricity, and gas tariffs and imposing Rs170 billion additional tax burden there was no hurry for cutting down wasteful expenditures.
For instance, one federal minister consumes 1,000 litres of petrol on monthly basis. He possesses a luxurious vehicle and three other official cars.
Another minister demonstrating austerity has written a letter to return a vehicle to the government and also made the letter public. But he didn’t disclose that he had utilised his ministry’s limit on petrol just in a couple of months of the ongoing financial year.
There is another practice in the Federal Secretariat as hiring was being done in name of specialists, experts, and young fellows without consideration of actual requirements and well-defined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
The majority of bureaucrats are taking the monetisation of vehicles but are also using official cars and petrol through different heads.