ANI Photo | Pak PM Shehbaz asks Foreign Office to cut expenses under austerity measures

Amid an unprecedented economic crisis in the country, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to cut the number of foreign missions as part of austerity measures, reported Geo News.
“The prime minister is pleased to direct that a well-considered proposal/ plan in this respect may please be submitted to this office within two weeks positively,” a directive issued by the PM Office reads.
According to the news report, Shehbaz has issued instructions to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to slash down a number of foreign missions abroad and reduce their offices, staff, and other measures to cut down expenditures by 15 per cent.
The official communication titled “Rationalisation of Foreign Mission Abroad” states that in view of the ongoing economic constraints and the consequent need for fiscal consolidation and control of external deficit, the prime minister was pleased to constitute a National Austerity Committee (NAC).
Pakistani media suggested that there has been increasing frustration amid the political-cum-technocratic members of the cabinet over the government’s reluctance to implement the measures issued by the NAC. The media reported that while the government is taking measures such as hiking electricity and gas tariffs, it is not cutting down wasteful expenditures, reported Geo News.

Although Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar in his mini-budget speeches reiterated the government’s commitment to undertaking austerity steps by the PM within weeks, there was a perception that the government undertook all tough measures by hiking electricity, and gas tariffs and imposing Rs 170 billion additional tax burden but was in no hurry to cut down wasteful expenditures.
The committee has recommended that the expenditure on Pakistani missions abroad may be reduced by 15 per cent.
“This may be achieved by curtailing the number of Foreign Missions, reduction in the number of officers and staff posted there and other suitable measures,” it further stated.
Another minister has written a letter to return a vehicle to the government and also made the letter public, reported Geo News.
Notably, every federal minister takes 1,000 litres of petrol on monthly basis as each one possess a luxurious vehicle and three other official cars.
There is another practice in the Federal Secretariat as hiring was being done in name of specialists, experts, and young fellows without consideration of actual requirements and well-defined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), reported Geo News.
The majority of bureaucrats are taking the monetisation of vehicles but are also using official cars and petrol through different heads. (ANI)

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