ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has reiterated zero tolerance for corruption and maladministration, saying that his government wants to make the country a strong and vibrant economic power of the region.

Chairing a special meeting of the federal cabinet here on Tuesday, Nawaz identified extremism and terrorism as major reasons for the downfall of the national economy. He said the government would weed out the menaces with the help of all political forces.

The meeting was also attended by a high-powered Malaysian delegation that shared its success stories in various fields. The Cabinet discussed good management practices to be adopted by the government sector to make it more effective, efficient and accountable.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the PIA performance, the PM said that it is incurring Rs3.3 billion monthly losses due to inefficiency, corruption and malpractices. “At present, we are only dealing with day-to-day crisis at PIA. Taxpayers’ hard-earned money is being spent to bail PIA out of economic crisis,” Nawaz said. “This situation cannot continue any longer.”

He said the money should be invested in the power sector and for the development of other resources instead of sustaining the inefficient PIA. He said that over-employment and low quality services led to the downfall of country’s national airline, which once was the world’s best. He directed the PIA management to provide a detailed briefing and bring about concrete proposals to reform PIA.

The premier said that economic development is the only way forward but terrorism and extremism are badly hampering the economic turnaround in Pakistan. He said that the country is passing through difficult times and the government is evolving a consensus strategy to sort out all issues confronting the nation. Nawaz said that during his previous tenures, his governments followed the policy of free market economy, which led to faster economic growth at that time. “We have again started with the same policy with enlarged vision and increased vigour,” the PM added.

Senator Dato’ Siri Idris Jala, Minister in Malaysian Prime Minister’s Office and CEO Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PMDU), attended the Cabinet meeting at a special invitation of Nawaz Sharif. He shared his experiences of Malaysian economic programmes and government transformation. He informed the Cabinet that Malaysia transformed its economy by devising short-term plans within the framework of its larger strategic programmes, and set time-line for achieving those plans by giving key performance indicators. The public as well as private sectors were involved, through well-defined process, in devising these policies and making them achievable, he added.

He informed the Cabinet that the procedures were made simple to attract investors, both foreign and domestic.

PM Nawaz said that the government is following an economic model, whereby key development sectors have been identified and prioritised. “Moreover, systems are being simplified.”

Nawaz said his government has prioritised economy, energy and modernising infrastructure across the country. He said investment in the power sector is high on the priority list. A team of experts is working on the reforms action plan, he said.

The PM said: “We look forward to working closely with the Malaysian government.” Pakistan could learn from the success stories of Malaysia and replicate the same in Pakistan, he added.

He also recalled his association with Mahatir Muhammad, the former prime minister of Malaysia, and said that they had extensive discussions on the economic reforms and shared experiences. He said that a high-powered delegation would soon visit Malaysia to further strengthen cooperation particularly in the economic field between the two countries.

The prime minister thanked the Malaysian delegation and extended invitation to the Malaysian PM to visit Pakistan.