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LAHORE: Punjab government spokesperson and provincial prisons minister Fayyaz-ul-Hassan Chohan claimed on Wednesday that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has reduced expenses of the chief minister’s office by 76 percent.

The minister made this disclosure after reports emerged in the media that the CM office citing ‘legitimate privacy’ has denied the information to a lawyer citing, who had approached the Punjab Information Commission (PIC) seeking details of vehicles being used by CM Usman Buzdar along with their maintenance expenditures.

According to Chohan, 173 vehicles were in the use of chief minister’s office from 2017 to 2018 which was reduced to 110 during 2020-21. He said that all these vehicles were also under the use of officers and personnel of the CM Secretariat.

The minister said that an expenditure of Rs 40.2 million was incurred on the maintenance of these vehicles in 2017-2018 whereas a sum of Rs 15 million was spent in 2020-21 for the purpose. He said in 2017-18, 372,000 liters of oil was used in the vehicles of the CM office while only 228,000 liters oil was utilized in 2020-21.

He added that a sum of Rs 35 million was spent on fuel during 2017-18, and despite the increase in petrol prices only Rs 27 million was spent during 2020-21. According to Chohan, the non-salary expenditures of the CM office were Rs 240 million in 2017-18 whereas on the instructions of CM Buzdar only Rs 140 million was spent in this head in 2020-21.

He said that Rs 90 million was spent on entertainment and gifts in 2017-18 whereas Rs 40.4 million were spent in 2020-21 under this head. Similarly in 2017-18, Rs 90.6 million were spent from the chief minister’s discretionary funds while only Rs 20.3 million was spent in the same head during 2020-21, he added.

The minister claimed that analysis of these two years suggested that during the tenure of CM Usman Buzdar, 64 percent expenditures in the vehicle maintenance head were saved, adding that 39 percent finds were saved under the head of fuel charges, 36 percent in the utilization of cars, 26 percent in the use of other fuels, 40 percent in the non-salary expenditures whereas expenses in the head of entertainment and gifts have also been reduced by 50 percent.

The spokesperson added that “transparency” is the hallmark of the PTI government. “There is no ambiguity about the fuel cost and funds, but information on certain issues cannot be made public due to security reasons,” he stressed and added that the austerity campaign of the PTI has yielded positive results. “The previous process of lavish spending in the CM office has been ceased.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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