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Tuesday 18 February 2020

Pakistan, impoverished, takes to extreme austerity

Pakistan government has put a ban on new post creations, vehicle purchases, utilities spending has been rationalised along with provision for only one newspaper and decided to keep minimum expenditures under its austerity drive for the current revenue year

Islamabad: The Imran Khan government of Pakistan has put a ban on new creation of posts and all kinds of vehicle purchases to minimize expenditures under its austerity drive for the current revenue year. Utility spending has also been rationalised and provision for only one newspaper has been allowed for the officials.

Under the IMF programme, the increasing budget deficit, according to media reports, is a matter of concern for the Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government. During the last financial year 2018-19, when the budget deficit was at its peak, the IMF’s campaign to deal with the financial emergency was a massive failure.

Provision of refreshments such as tea or biscuits during official meetings have already been banned by the Pakistan government which has further caused distress as most of the official meetings often go on for hours, creating issues for people with ailness.

The Ministry of Finance has, however, ignored the criticism and issued an Office Memorandum (OM) on Friday, announcing more austerity measures with immediate effect for the financial year 2019-20. The new order implies:

  • A complete ban on vehicle purchases of all types (excluding motorcycles) both for development as well as current expenditures.
  • A ban has been imposed on the creation of new posts except those that would be required for development projects and if approved by the competent authority.
  • Only one periodical magazines, newspapers etc will be entitled to officers.
  • Rationalised utility consumption (electricity, water, gas, telephone etc) will be ensured by the Principal Accounting Officers (PAOs) and the operational expenditures like that on maintenance and repair, purchase of assets etc shall be kept at a bare minimum level while keeping in mind the budgetary allocation for the financial year.
  • Both sides of a paper have to be used in all official documentation and communications.

On 25 August, following the release of water by Pakistan into the Indian territory, a major portion of an embankment in the catchment area of the Sutlej river was washed away and a few villages in India’s Punjab-border district Ferozepur were facing a flood threat.

Indian officials on Sunday said that the Ferozepur district administration was on high alert, while the precautionary deployment of the NDRF and the Army teams had been made in view of the flood threat which looms large in some villages.

“Pakistan has released water in huge quantity which caused damage to the embankment in Tendiwala village, and there is danger of floods in some villages,” a spokesperson of the Punjab government said. “Being on guard, the district administration has announced evacuation in most sensitive villages along the Sutlej river as a precautionary step besides deploying various teams of the health department, food and civil supplies department and others,” he said.

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