March 1 (Times of India) – Cash-strapped Pakistan is taking several drastic austerity measures to ensure compliance with conditions set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a much-needed $ 1.1 billion bailout package.
In order to stave off bankruptcy and debt default, the crisis-ridden country has already removed artificial caps on its currency resulting in it shedding more than a quarter of its value; fuel prices have jumped by almost a fifth and are expected to rise further; key policy rate has and taxes on luxury items have been increased.
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Last week Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addressed the media alongside the federal Cabinet and announced a slew of new cash-saving measures:
- PM Sharif announced that ministers and special advisers had decided to forego their salaries and perks.
- Till June 2024, there will be a complete ban on buying luxury items and on purchasing all types of new cars.
- All luxury cars being used by Cabinet members will be revoked and will be auctioned.
- Federal ministers will travel in economy when undertaking domestic travel or going abroad.
- Support staff will no longer be allowed to go on state visits.
- Cabinet members will not stay in five-star hotels during foreign trips.
- Government officers will only be allowed to undertake “obligatory visits”, and they will travel in economy.
- Security cars will no longer be provided to government officers.
- Teleconferencing would be promoted in order to reduce traveling expenses.
- For the next two years, no new administrative unit, division or sub-division will be created.
- To conserve gas and electricity, offices will open at 7.30 a.m. during the summers.
- Only a single dish would be allowed at Government events. “There will only be one dish in all the ministries in Islamabad, in the Prime Minister’s Hou ..
- If it is tea time, then only tea and biscuits will be provided,” said the PM.
- •PM Sharif said that the current expenditure of ministries, departments and sub-departments would be reduced by 15%.
- Government houses spread on acres will be converted into Townhouses.
- No official or minister will be allowed to retain state gifts worth more than $ 300.
- Single treasury account to be established.
PM Sharif said the measures would be implemented immediately adding that additional steps would be taken at the time of the budget for the new fiscal year. He also urged chief ministers and high-ranking officials in the four provinces to introduce similar measures.
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