Pakistan’s Finance Division on Saturday denied reports about the government issuing instructions to stop pension and salary payments. The division said the reports were false, Dawn newspaper reported.
According to Dawn, the clarifications by the Finance Division came after The News International reported that the Accountant General of Pakistan Revenue (AGPR) had been told by the finance ministry to “stop clearing all federal ministries and attached department’s bills until further orders”.
“Even the clearance of salary bills has also been stopped,” claimed the report, which quoted “top official sources” as saying that “operational cost-related releases faced difficulties mainly because of lingering financial difficulties being faced by the country.”
A release issued by the Finance Division on Saturday, however, rejected the story, saying: “There are rumours floating around that the government has instructed to stop payment of pay, pension, etc. This is completely false as no such instructions have been given by Finance Division, which is the concerned federal ministry.”
It added that the accountant general of Pakistan Revenue (AGPR) has “confirmed that pay and pension have already been processed and will be paid on time.”
The press release further said that other payments were also being processed as per routine.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said the “fake news” was being spread to “cause harm to the national economic interests”, Dawn reported.
“Kindly refrain from circulating such reports and news without verifying from the concerned ministry,” he urged the people.
Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif recently asked his ministers and advisers to let go of their salaries, benefits and luxury cars and fly economy class as part of an austerity drive aimed at saving the government Pakistani Rupee (PKR) 200 billion a year, Pakistan-based Dawn newspaper reported.
According to Dawn, the belt-tightening comes as the government is trying to resume a stalled loan programme of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to secure funds worth USD 1 billion. The premier said an agreement with the Fund was in its final stages.
The expenditure cuts are part of an effort to prevent an economic crisis in the country. The State Bank’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen below a three-week import cover, and inflation remains consistently high.
“Far-reaching results of these (austerity) measures will come to the fore. We will save around over PKR 200 billion due to such measures,” the prime minister told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Dawn reported.
Sharif said that though the measures would not give significant, immediate relief, they would give people a sense that the government realised their pain and agony.
He said these measures would be implemented immediately, adding that “additional steps” would be taken at the time of the budget for the new fiscal year. (ANI)