ISLAMABAD - The PML-N government has said it was not considering any proposal to increase salaries and pensions of civil servants, dropping a hint that government servants may get a meagre increase or no increase at all in their salaries in the upcoming financial year.
“At present, there is no such proposal under consideration to increase the pay and pension of government employees during budget 2014-15,” Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told the National Assembly (NA) on Wednesday.About the coming of controversial $1.5 billion funds in the country reportedly from an Arab country, the minister formally disclosed that it was a ‘gift of friendly country for Pakistan’. “This gift... is without any conditions,” he said in a policy statement, rejecting the claims that the loan giving state had asked Pakistan for arms and sought armed intervention in its home affairs in return for this favour.About Pakistan’s economic situation, he said the positive economic indicators have also restored the confidence of the international financial institutions. Dar said that PML-N government would float Euro Bond in the international market in the first week of April.About external loans, the minister informed that government during the first and second quarter of financial year 2013-14 obtained $2.377billion external Loans. “During the first quarter the government obtained $1.093billion and $1.284billion in the second quarter,” he said in a written reply to a question from MNA Belum Hasnain.He further said that government during the first and second quarter obtained Rs714.1billion internal loans of financial year 2013-14. “During the first quarter Rs640.7billion and in second quarter Rs73.4billion were obtained,” he said.Responding to the concerns about electricity charges, the minister clarified that this was a deal by Nepra with the auto fuel adjustment system. The government was giving subsidy of up to Rs250 billion to 270 billion (per annum) to power consumers. The minister shared that 800 billion were required to complete the delayed Karachi-Lahore Motorway project. “We are also in a planning to start 19 mega projects in the fields of infrastructure and energy soon,” he added. The grant of $1.5billion was being discussed and criticised by opposition parties from different angles for last couple of days. Quashing the scepticism, Dar clarified that incumbent government would not send troops to other any other country, including Syria. “On the behalf of prime minister, I categorically inform (this House) that no forces would be send to Syria or any other country... Pakistan will not interfere in any other country’s affairs at any cost.”“This grant was not given in a secretive manner, as same kind of gift was given in 1998 to our country,” he said without disclosing the name of the friendly country which has given this ‘gift’. He however said that this friendly country is amongst 26 countries of Friends of Democratic Forum, which was launched in September, 2008.“This grant is without any condition; we have not to pay back this aid,” he said, adding that this was not the matter of any political party but of Pakistan. Dar said Pakistan had received first tranche of 750million on February 19 and second trance was received on March 7. The minister said that they had not asked for this assistance but the friendly country helped Pakistan’s economy on its own. “Its impact will be visible with the passage of time as it is not an electric switch to immediately respond,” he argued, responding to taunts from opposition benches. He added that there was much difference between ‘begging’ and getting financial aid in a respectable manner. He also shared that Pakistan in the era of PPP had only received 341 million dollars out of six billion dollars pledged by Friends of Democratic Forum.Taking the floor, PPP senior lawmaker Naveed Qamar said that government should clear its position about this grant. Other opposition party senior member from PTI Shah Mehmood Qureshi also raised question about any linkages of this grant. “It needs to clarify that any string are attached with this aid,” he added. Like others, MQM’s Farooq Sattar also raised concerns about the ‘grant without any conditions’. “There is no free lunch in the world,” he said. PkMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai said that government should give categorical statement on this issue. “We need not to annoy our neighbouring countries,” he added, in reference to Iran. Meanwhile, Interior and Narcotics Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan informed the House that 444 persons were facing cases punishable with death in drug offences in the country. In a written reply, he said hundred death sentences were awarded in drug offences in 16 years (1997 to till date). To another question, the minister said the ministry had cancelled the extension in work visas of Mr Robert M Kolling, passport number 445226448 USA national and Mr Cameron James Macinish, passport number 099155369 British national. The said foreigners were repatriated to their respective countries via Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Islamabad.Published in The Nation newspaper on 27-Mar-2014