ISLAMABAD - Imran Ali Kundi/Abrar Saeed - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has categorically said that the dual policy on drones will not be pursued anymore and the US will have to respect the sovereignty of Pakistan.

The new PM, who held first meeting of his cabinet on Monday, warned his ministers against corruption and told them that their performance would be evaluated every six months.

Nawaz also chaired meeting of the NEC (National Economic Council) which approved the macroeconomic framework for the financial year 2013-2014 and a development budget of Rs1.16 trillion, including a record Rs1,155 billion PSDP (public sector development programme).

The prime minister vowed to eliminate corruption and plug loopholes to increase the revenue. He gave 15-day deadline to his cabinet colleagues to come up with concrete action plans of their respective ministries to overcome the ‘biggest challenges’ of loadshedding, extremism and sectarianism that have a direct bearing on the economy. “We need peace for economic activities,” he said, adding loadshedding issue would be resolved in the shortest possible time.

About the drone attacks he said that the dual policy of issuing public statements against drone attacks while secretly giving a go ahead to the US to carry on with the strikes will not be allowed to continue under his rule. “The US government will also have to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan,” he said, regretting that drone strike was made the very day he took charge of the government. All the stakeholders would be consulted for formulating a policy on the issue, he added.

The record Rs1,155 billion PSDP approved by the NEC is about Rs282 billion (32 per cent) higher than outgoing year’s allocation of Rs873b. Of the total development outlay, Rs540 billion allocations have been proposed for the federal PSDP, which include Rs109b foreign component, while Rs615b has been put aside for the provincial annual development plans (ADPs). The outgoing financial year’s federal PSDP was Rs360b while ADPs allocations were Rs513b.

Planning Division Minister Ahsan Iqbal told the media government has abolished the PM’s discretionary fund under PWP-II head and also renamed People’s Works Programme as Tamir-e-Pakistan Programme, for which Rs5 billion have been allocated. He said government has made block allocation of Rs115 billion federal PSDP, to be utilised for development schemes envisaged in party’s manifesto, such as metro bus service in Islamabad and Karachi. The NEC also decided to constitute a committee led by Ahsan Iqbal with provincial CMs as its members to chalk out a policy and streamline the process of release of funds to provinces.

Ahsan Iqbal said that government has given priority to the power sector in the development programme and decided to allocate Rs107 billion for energy sector’s projects and Rs118b for Wapda and Pepco projects. He said Rs18b has been allocated to purachse land for Diamer Bhasha Dam and Rs8.2b for the construction of this dam. He said Rs25b have been put for Neelum Jhelum hydropower plant project, Rs14b for extension of Tarbela dam, Rs5.5b for Golan Gol dam, Rs3.3b for Dobar Khawr project, Rs3.5b for Mangla Dam, Rs5.2b for Kachi Kenal and Rs5.2 billion for other dams. Similarly, the government fixed Rs10b for nuclear energy project in Karachi and Rs42b for Chasma III and IV projects.

The NEC also approved Rs105 billion projects for transport sector with Rs63b for National Highway Authority for roads infrastructure and Rs31b for Pakistan Railways. An amount of Rs25b for population and health sector projects was earmarked in the PSDP and another Rs25b for education sector, which included Rs18.4b for HEC. The NEC approved Rs42b allocations for Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

The approved macroeconomic framework envisages country’s growth target at 4.4 against the current year’s estimated real GDP growth rate of 3.6 percent. The government has set the agricultural sector growth at 3.8pc, industry 4.8pc and services at 4.6pc. Inflation target has been set at 8 percent. Exports are projected at to $26.1 billion against the estimated imports of $42.6b. The current account is projected to be in deficit by $2.9 billion (11pc of GDP) against a deficit of $2.1b (0.9pc of GDP) estimated for the outgoing year.

The cabinet also reviewed the law and order situation and the prevailing energy crisis. Putting the energy crisis on the top of government agenda, Nawaz asked his cabinet colleagues to rise above their personal interests, get rid of lethargy and put in their best.