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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan  Tuesday explained to the cabinet members initiatives that he has personally taken for austerity, keeping in view the current economic challenges faced by the country and advised them to set an example for others by adopting simple lifestyle.

Briefing the media persons about cabinet decisions along with Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan  said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has set an example of austerity by saving 32 percent  funds allocated for Prime Minister House in outgoing budget.

She said that an amount  of Rs 1.10 billion was allocated for PM House in 2018-19 budget out of which Rs 750 million was spent which means 32 per cent amount was saved.

Firdous Ashiq Awan said the media did not accurately report the amount allocated for Prime Minister House in the next budget.

She said that a section of media carried the news about increase in PM House budget in coming budget which was not correct and a contradiction was issued.

She said that an amount of Rs 290 million earmarked for National Disaster management Authority was linked with the PM House which was incorrect and misleading.

She said that for next fiscal year 13 per cent less allocation has been done for the PM House expenses which shows that the PM was leading the austerity drive from the front.  She also said that no family member of the Prime Minister was using the funds of the Prime Minster House.

She lamented that in the past entire Sharif family was involved in wastage of the funds allocated for PM House. She said that in 2014-15, Rs 860 million were allocated for PM House, in 2015-16 Rs 1 billion, in 2016-17 Rs 1.40 billion and in 2017-18 1.13 billion.

Moreover the utility bills of the PM House were paid by various other departments and maintenance of the PM House was done by Pak PWD. She also revealed that the present government had to pay left over utility bills of the previous government.

She said that former rulers used public money for construction of security wall and road of Raiwind palace and there were several camp offices of the former prime minister.

Similarly Prime Minister’s plane was misused by the family of the then prime minister. Not only his children and grand-children, but his brother Shahbaz Sharif who had a helicopter at his disposal as Chief Minister Punjab also plundered Rs 340 million by using PM’s plane. She said that Shahbaz Sharif also wasted Rs 45 billion on his personal publicity.

She said the PM informed the cabinet, that he along with Foreign Minister would go to New York to attend United Nations General Assembly session and instead of staying luxury hotel, they would stay in the house of Pakistan Ambassador to save precious foreign exchange.

She said in the past entire Sharif family used to accompany the former Prime Minister during his official foreign trips.

In 2015 not only Maryam Safdar, but also her daughter also accompanied him on the trip which was a proof that they misused national wealth for personal pleasure.

She said the cabinet was informed that 157 Rest Houses of various government departments in addition to PTDC motels and NHA rest houses will also be opened for public. She said that  detailed briefing would be given on commercialization of PTDC,NHA and other departments reset houses soon.

Criticizing the role of opposition in the National Assembly, she said the undue criticism by opposition on budget is illogical. She condemned  the besieging of NA Speaker at his chamber by the opposition and  prerogative of issuing production order lies with the Speaker of National Assembly and he should see the merit of it.

The Special Assistant said no production order was issued for Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad during the tenure of previous government, despite the fact that he had no criminal case against him.

The cabinet, Dr Firdous  directed that glorification of crime should  not be allowed and Chief Ministers have been asked  to discourage the giving of protocols to criminals in their court hearings as there was difference between political prisoners and criminals.

She said that the opposition teaches the government lessons of morality, but the Speaker Sindh Assembly who had been arrested in a corruption has not tendered resignation.

She informed the media that the cabinet formed the committee for formulation of a comprehensive sugar policy so that in future no subsidy should be given to sugar export.

She said that soon farmers of sugar cane would be provided facilities so that they can produce Gurr near their forms.

She said that for the first time agriculture has been included in China Pakistan Economic Corridor and a monitoring cell has been established in PM Office to remove hurdles in implementation of these projects.

She said that the cabinet was also briefed over the online visa issuance scheme.

She said that on the issue of regularization  of contract employees, the Prime Minister asked the ministries to prepare a databank so that the decision about their regulations could be made after consolations.

The Prime Minister took the cabinet into confidence regarding upcoming visit of Emir Qatar to Pakistan, she added.

Dr Firdous said that the cabinet was also informed on Amnesty and Asset Declaration Ordinance that is going to expire on 30th of this month. It was apprised that NADRA is setting up E-Facilitation Centers from 21st of this month at its various counters with the information of all the financial records and assets of individuals and any person can check his records in order to avail the asset declaration scheme.

Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2019