Austerity Drive Continues: No First-Class Air Travel Luxury For PM, President, Govt. Officials

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AUG 26, 2018: The newly-elected PTI-led coalition government at the Center has banned the discretionary use of state funds and first-class air travel by officials and leaders, including the president and the prime minister.

The decisions were taken at a Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“It has been decided that all the top government officials, including the president, prime minister, chief justice, senate chairman, speaker national assembly and the chief ministers will travel in club/business class,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told media.

He said the discretionary allocation of funds by the prime minister and the president and other officials was also stopped by the Cabinet.

The prime minister also decided to stop using special plane for foreign visits or domestic traveling and use of business class.

The minister said former prime minister Nawaz Sharif used Rs 21 billion discretionary funds during one year and also allocated Rs 30 billion to parliamentarians for development schemes at his own will. “Since the national kitty is not a personal property of any individual, therefore, the cabinet has decided that all future projects will route through the parliament to ensure that tax payers’ money were spent judiciously.”

He said the prime minister would not use his personal aircraft for traveling rather he and his cabinet members would avail Club Class instead of First Class. “The government will request other important personalities to also use the Club Class no matter even if they are entitled to First Class.”

Earlier, the newly installed setup decided not to use the PM House, President House and all the four Governor Houses as part of austerity measures on national level.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s lawmakers have termed Khan’s decisions regarding austerity and abolishment of discretionary funds as landmark measures. They said Imran’s decision regarding austerity and reduction in government expenses has a vast public support as they now understand that there is someone who can take good care of the taxes they pay to the government.

Many observers while calling the austerity drive a much needed move which could save the national exchequer several hundred million dollars in expenses, however, say the new government’s real challenge lies in securing a bailout package and bringing down soaring debt to bring the faltering economy back on track.

The week-old austerity also includes non-use of luxury and bullet-proof cars by officials top down and their sale/auction.

Other measures include:
Ban on official meals during meetings.
Ban on purchase of cars and return of all vehicles to the Federal/Provincial pool. Only Suzuki and Cultus vehicles will be allowed to Govt. Officers from BPS- 17-22. All other vehicles will be auctioned.
Ban on recruitment of drivers.
Collect and auction all SUV’s being misused in government departments.
Identify and name and shame those illegally using vehicles and staff at residences.
Govt vehicles in bazaars and outside schools and at residences to be photographed and reported for seizure.
Ban on government  functions in 4/5 Star Hotels.
Reduction by order, 1/3 in the POL, Repair/Maintenance budgets of all govt., Semi govt departments and corporations.
Cancellation of all contractual re employments over the age of 60.
Vacate and auction priceless govt property which includes Colonial bungalows/offices etc. by BS 17-22 officers in Islamabad and throughout Pakistan-to raise $1 billion for debt retirement and dam building.
Ban on officers travel abroad and their medical treatments abroad at govt. expense.

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