ISLAMABAD  -  Going ahead with its austerity agenda, the ministers on Friday banned their own discretionary funds as well as of others.

The cabinet in its second meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, abolished the discretionary funds of the prime minister, the ministers and the president. The measure is expected to save billions of rupees.

The cabinet also decided that uplift projects would be discussed in the Parliament and their approval would be given after a detailed review.

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Briefing media after the meeting, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that use of discretionary funds was an insult to the taxpayers. He said the discretionary powers of all the ministers to grant funds had been revoked.

Chaudhry said that funds worth Rs21 billion were spent by the previous government during the last year. In addition, he said that Rs40 billion were allocated to lawmakers for development projects, making the two a huge amount of Rs51 billion. He said that previous governments used the national exchequer like their ‘own property’.

He said that as part of the austerity drive of the prime minister, it had been decided that special plane of the premier would not be used for foreign visits. Rather, Chaudhry said, the PM will travel in ordinary passenger planes and use the club class instead of the business or first classes.

This discretion has also been abolished for president, chief justice, army chief and other senior officials, he added.

“I don’t know if the army chief has a special plane. If he does, it’s (the ban) is applicable to him as well,” he replied to a question.

He said that the cabinet had decided that working hours will be changed to 9 am to 5 pm from 8 am to 4 pm and the weekly holiday of Saturday will not be abolished. “It will also be ensured that public servants dedicate full time to their jobs during the working hours,” he added.

Chaudhry said that a task force would be set up to resolve the problems of slums in order to bring them into mainstream. He said that the government wanted to improve living standard of people and resolve their issues.

The minister said that the cabinet also took decision to hold forensic audit of all mass transport projects including Multan Metro project, Lahore Orange Train project and Peshawar Metro Bus project. He said that if needed, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) will investigate the cases.

The cabinet decided to start urban tree plantation projects in Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta and Lahore from the next month. The purpose is to make these areas green and mitigate adverse impacts of climate change, the information minister said.

Commenting on an incident in Faisalabad, Chaudhry said that it was a law and order matter between 2 groups and had no religious dimension.

Replying to a question, the minister said that it was being considered to abolish the ministry of CADD and merge its employees into other departments.

To a question regarding information ministry, he said that there would be visible changes in his ministry soon. He said that Pakistan Television and Radio Pakistan had been given directions to give equal coverage to all political parties and their leaders and there would be no editorial censorship for both the state-run media organisations.

He said that duration of English transmissions on PTV and Radio Pakistan would be enhanced in order to give the world a picture of what is happening in the country. He said that the PTV World would highlight the regional issues of the country.

Chaudhry said that task forces set up by the government are for short-term and long-term goals and they would work accordingly. He said that a mechanism was being evolved to hold complete inquiry into the Result Transmission System (RTS) of Election Commission of Pakistan so that such delays do not occur in future.

PM asks Speaker to curtail

NA expenditure

(Abrar Saeed add) Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar to curtail expenses of the National Assembly Secretariat to possible extent.

The NA speaker called on the premier and facilitated him on assuming the office and also exchanged Eid greetings with him. He also briefed Khan on legislative business of the Lower House of the Parliament and his interaction with the parliamentary leaders of opposition parties for ensuring smooth conduct of the House.

The prime minister said that the people of Pakistan had great expectations from the Parliament and the ‘Naya’ (new) Pakistan and hoped that the NA speaker would run the House in the most effective manner and would make it function smoothly.

The speaker assured the premier that all efforts would be made for smooth conduct of the legislative business and expeditious resolution of core issues of the people.

Earlier, Qaisar separately held meetings with former NA speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and former leader of opposition in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shad and sought their support in smooth running of the House. He assured both the leaders that he would run the House in consultation with parliamentary heads of all the parties and would do legislation in consultation with them for alleviating the sufferings of the common people.

He further assured them that in the conduct of the House, he would fully adhere to the parliamentary norms and if needed, would make changes in the rules of procedure and conduct in consultation with all the parliamentary parties.

He further said that to maintain sanctity of the House, each and every member should play his role and added that they should also work together to enhance the respect of the House by playing their due role in quality and meaningful legislation.

He also sought the help and guidance of both the senior parliamentarians in running the House and hoped that they would play their due role and help him run the house in efficient fashion.

Khursheed Shah and Ayaz Sadiq assured full support to the speaker and said that they would cooperate with him in smooth conduct of the House. Both the leaders also congratulated Qaisar for assuming the office of Speaker National Assembly and exchanged Eid greetings with him.



Cabinet bans discretionary funds