Islamabad: In order to save taxpayers’ money from government expenditure, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif agreed to the comprehensive proposals presented by the austerity committee and asked the committee to implement these proposals together with all stakeholders.
If these proposals are implemented, the perks, perks and other luxuries enjoyed by the ruling elite, parliamentarians, judges, generals, civilians and military officers with taxpayers’ money will largely end. Prominent among these suggestions are that the size of the cabinet should be reduced, no development funds should be given to members of parliament, no pension should be given to anyone from the public exchequer above Rs 5 lakh per month.
Government officials should not be given big vehicles (special utility vehicles i.e. SUVs), all privileges, security, support staff and utilities should be withdrawn from retired government employees, judicial officers of high courts and civil servants, all members national and provincial. The salaries of the assembly and senators should be reduced by 15%, the current budget of all ministries, divisions, departmental offices, autonomous institutions, provincial governments and embassies abroad should be reduced by 15% at the federal and provincial levels.
All civil servants, bureaucrats, judges and officers of the armed forces should not be given more than one plot, if already more than one plot has been allotted and any additional land should be canceled and auctioned.
Under CPEC, no new greenfield projects should be started except in special industrial zones, recruitment should be banned and security protocols should be reduced for all.
While presenting these suggestions, the committee has pointed out that their implementation will be a difficult task, but considering the financial condition of the country, it is necessary that all sections of the society, especially those who are given money from the public treasury, participate in the austerity drive. put The committee is headed by retired secretary Nasir Khosa.
It has been proposed to reduce the size of the cabinet to 30 members, but with the option that additional cabinet members or special assistants (minister of state or ministerial status) may serve on public welfare basis. The recommendations call for a review of the protocols and security arrangements available to all government officials.
The proposals say that the budget should be frozen till June 2024, the purchase of all kinds of vehicles should be stopped for the same period, the specific allowance for any position, organization or care should be reduced by 25%, new administrative units should be created. A total stay ban should be imposed, security protocols for all government officials should be revised and significantly reduced, discretionary grants and secret service funding should be frozen.
A complete ban on all new recruitment by June 2024, adopting a paper-free environment and introducing electronic procurement as well as promoting digital systems, teleconferencing to reduce travel and accommodation costs. To be promoted, support services should be outsourced.
All entitlements related to foreign travel, postings and tours should be reviewed with the Ministry of Finance and the Cabinet Division. The pension reforms being worked on by the Finance Division should be finalized by 30 June 2023. Provided, that in all cases the maximum pension should not exceed 5 lakhs, all such posts which are vacant for the last three years; They should be eliminated.
Import of luxury vehicles should be completely banned and public servants will not use large vehicles (SUVs), retired civil, judicial officers of high courts and subordinate officers, vehicles, security, support staff and utilities will be closed. To be done, Cabinet Divisions should identify agencies and government bodies that are performing overlapping functions.
Establishment Division, Finance Division and Cabinet Division should rationalize the number of Ministries, Divisions, Affiliated Institutions, Authorities, Autonomous Institutions etc. as per the constitutional mandate.
All civil servants, bureaucrats, judges and military officers should be given only one plot and those who have been allotted more than one plot and any additional land should be canceled and auctioned.Progressive property tax in all provinces. should be implemented while free electricity units given to employees of power distribution companies should be abolished. In its recommendations regarding subsidies and grants, the committee has said that all subsidies should be targeted and focus only on the poor.
In respect of electricity and petroleum products, only poor-friendly subsidies should be maintained and full price charged in other cases, provinces should provide subsidies and grants to their citizens, Benezir Income Support Program (BISP) and tube wells. If we look at the subsidy on electricity, most of the beneficiaries belong to the related provinces.
Therefore, contribution or sharing mechanism should be formed between the provinces and the federation frequently, subsidy on wheat should be targeted and private sector should be given a major role in it, prepaid meter system should be introduced for electricity and gas.
Regarding the development budget, the committee has said in its proposals that no new greenfield projects should be included in the PSDP except for CPEC Special Economic Zones. The ongoing and sanctioned development projects should be reviewed and only those projects which are absolutely necessary or indispensable for their completion should be allowed to continue.
The Planning Division should conduct a comprehensive review of such development projects. The federal government should only provide funding for development projects that fall within constitutional limits, the system of identifying development projects by members of parliament since 1985 should be abolished. Instead, a system of sectoral development strategy (Sectoral Growth Strategy) should be adopted.
Regarding the government institutions, the committee has said in its suggestions that doing business and commercial activities is not the job of the government. Therefore, state owned enterprises should be transferred to other arrangements
Governance in state institutions should be improved and the law should be followed for this purpose, subsidies should not be given to such state institutions which cannot do anything good for the public, strict terms and conditions should be implemented regarding the applications for obtaining loans. .
The Committee has recommended that the Single Treasury Account, which has been started by the Finance Division, should be implemented immediately. All special accounts should be carefully reviewed.