EDITORIAL: Although the size of the federal cabinet has already been grossly disproportionate to the government’s functional needs, seven more people have been appointed Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM).

The incumbent government has now comprises 34 ministers (several of them without portfolio since there are more of them than the government departments they can preside over), seven ministers of state, four advisers to the PM, and 40 SAMPs.

Then there are 38 parliamentary secretaries, again, far exceeding the number of ministries even as their only job is to answer the legislators’ questions in the National Assembly in the absence of ministers. State largess thus is being liberally distributed among cronies of the government.

Most of the cabinet members are from the PM’s party, the PML-N, inducted as a reward for their party loyalties. Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah acknowledged as much when he said in a TV programme that the new SAPMs have been appointed because of their own desire, “just to praise them”.

He also claimed that they have been inducted on a pro bono basis and will not avail any perks and privileges, which may or may not be true. But the others, including 34 ministers, surely are having a good time at public expense while a vast majority of the citizens are reeling from the affects of soaring inflation.

If that is not concerning enough, another issue is the government’s tendency to prioritise its interests over public good.

There is no other explanation other than this for its decision to allow import of as many as 2,200 luxury cars, purportedly for use of its cabinet members, whilst refusing to open letters of credit for shipments of food items and raw materials for the pharmaceutical companies and other manufacturing industries waiting at the Karachi Port.

Furthermore, the PM and some other members of his cabinet have frequently been travelling abroad by special planes — staying at pricey hotels — along with large entourages to attend events at most of which Pakistan’s local representatives or smaller delegations of relevant subject experts could best advocate the country’s case. Optics of such generous spending are dire at a time the people are struggling to make ends meet.

If it is accepted that the seven new SAPMs are there only to upgrade their CVs, and that it is a compulsion of coalition governance to try and accommodate representative of its partners — 13 in the present instance — several questions agitating the public mind beg answers.

First, names of parties to which belong the 85 ministers, ministers of state, advisers, and SAPMs. Second, what are their contributions to the business of the state? Third and not the least, what was the need to import so many new luxury cars, and who uses them?

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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Mushtaque Ahmed Feb 11, 2023 11:38pm
Barbad gulistan karney kailiya ek hi uloo kafi hai, Yahan to har shakh pe uloo baitha hai
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