LAHORE - The nascent PTI-led government is being criticised by its opponents for most of its decisions taken so far, as well as for what it could not do after taking over power a few weeks ago.

Leaving aside the justification or otherwise of what the opposition parties are saying, the government will be doing a national service by considering to take a few steps proposed hereunder:

A large number of government offices are housed in rented buildings on which the government has to pay heavy amounts every month. The exact monthly or yearly amount paid is not available as every department pays from its own budgetary allocations. However, what can be said without an iota of doubt is that the amount runs into billions of rupees.

If somehow these offices are shifted to government buildings, the amounts going to private hands or their ‘partners’ sitting in the government, can be saved. This will decidedly be a great step.

The obvious reason behind using the rented premises is lack of government buildings. And this is the subject that needs immediate attention of the PTI government, which is already planning to shift various offices to new buildings or use the existing buildings for new functions.

If the existing Governor’s House lands are used to construct new buildings where the rented offices can be housed, the government may save huge amounts every year that are being paid as rent. But for this purpose, the government will initially have to spend huge amounts to construct new offices. The land is available and only the construction cost will be needed.

And since the Governor’s House in Lahore is located at an ideal place, the new government offices to be constructed there will be easily accessible to officials to be posted there.

This means the PTI authorities should review the idea of converting the Governor’s House into a museum or a university.

The governor is only a ceremonial office, with little constitutional authority. In case the Governor’s House is shifted to 90 Shahrae Quaid-i-Azam, there can be no better utilisation of the premises. It has more than enough space and offices the governor may need to perform his functions. The venue is ready to use and no extra costs are involved.

The Punjab chief minister should use only one office at 8-Club Road, vacating all other offices occupied by him. The former chief minister’s approach to monopolise every building should be shunned by the champions of austerity.

The State Guest House on Lahore’s The Mall may house a number of offices presently working in rented buildings.

2. The government also plans to launch an effective campaign against encroachments. In Islamabad, buildings constructed at encroached premises are being demolished. This is very wrong approach.

If the government passes a law to take over all such buildings – depriving the encroachers of the ownership rights for good - the money spent on these structures can be saved from going waste. The government may use such buildings for offices – or can rent them. Such an approach can deter the prospective encroachers from committing what is essentially a serious illegality.

This principle may be applied across the country.

Demolition of such buildings is like wasting national resources.

3. Then, there are many buildings in the metropolitan lying unused under court orders.

Cases against these buildings should be decided one way or the other and whoever is the legitimate owner(s) of such centres/buildings should be allowed to make them functional. A good number of shopkeepers will get an opportunity to start, or resume, their businesses there. Lying idle, these centres are serving no useful purpose.

Needless to point out that investments worth billions of rupees are lying unused in the form of these buildings.

The PTI government should carry out a survey, identify such buildings across the province/country and find some methodology to make them operational.

4. A building constructed for the Punjab Assembly after spending huge amounts could not be completed by the PML-N government for reasons best known to the then rulers. If this building is completed and all functions of the legislature are transferred there, the existing building can be used for some other government offices.

A number of offices can be shifted to this British-era building.

5. Ministers and other government functionaries should be disallowed to stay in private hotels during their visits to different cities. They should stay only at the rest houses or other buildings available with the government.

In Lahore, for example, Chamba House should be used for the purpose. It is equipped with all facilities the ministers or other government functionaries may need.

6. WAPDA, SNGPL and WASA send their bills to their consumers either through private couriers or their employees without any coordination among them.

These bills land on different days – mainly the last few days of the month when people are short of money. Ironically, at times the consumers are delivered bills on what is supposed to be the last day for payment.

There can’t be a greater injustice.

In case a consumer fails to pay the bill the same day, the arrears are included in the next bill. Delayed payment of bills means such a consumer will have to pay some visits to the departments concerned to ward off their inclusion in the new vouchers.

This causes tremendous problem to the consumers.

In case all bills are sent by all departments the same day through Pakistan Post, money being paid to private couriers can be saved. This approach will also increase the business of an official organisation.

These ideas can be improved by those in power to make them more useful.