Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday directed the Ministry of Finance to hold a thorough probe into the loans taken by the former governments during the past 10 years and their utilisation.
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry stated this while briefing the media about the decisions of the federal cabinet meeting, chaired by Imran Khan. The premier while addressing the cabinet meeting said that Pakistan’s debt burden has increased from just six thousand billion rupees to thirty thousand billion rupees during the last 10 years. He said the country has to obtain more loans to pay back instalments of the previous loans.
The premier said it needs to be assessed as to why the debt was accumulated in the first place, adding that a “detailed analysis is required on which projects the funds were spent upon”. He said the analysis would enable the country to take an informed decision regarding repayment.
The federal cabinet discussed the current balance of payments crisis being faced by the country. In accordance with the cabinet decision, the government has directed the Interior Ministry to review the Exit Control List (ECL) and remove the names of innocent people.
The prime minister expressed the confidence that the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme would bring about a significant improvement in the economy of the country. The premier said the project would be undertaken through one-window operation.
Fawad Chaudhry said during the briefing that over 3,000 people are on the ECL and all of them are not guilty. The minister said the cabinet discussed at length the procedure and course of action for the newly-launched Naya Pakistan Housing Programme by the prime minister.
It was decided that state lands would be kept as collateral to banks while people will build their houses on that land. “We have retrieved thousands of kanals of land from encroachment mafia which will be utilised for this purpose in addition to spare lands owned by some government departments,” he said.
Fawad said the Apna Ghar Authority will start working in two months’ time to build five million houses for people as promised in the PTI manifesto. The minister said the cabinet decided to appoint Air Vice Marshal Arshad Mahmood Malik as Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Chairman to oversee affairs of the national airline. He said PIA is under debt burden of Rs406 billion with a monthly operational loss of Rs2 billion. Elaborating further, Fawad said that Air Marshal Arshad Malik has been given the task to look into the airline’s deficit. He added that the restructuring plan for PIA has been forwarded to the finance minister. He said advertisements have been placed in media for appointment of new CEO of the airline.
Fawad said the cabinet decided to investigate construction cost of the New Islamabad International Airport that exceeded from Rs38 billion to more than Rs100 billion. The cabinet also asked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to expedite the process of investigation in order to bring the culprits to justice.
The minister said the cabinet also gave approval to appointment of Aun Abbas as new MD Pakistan Baitul Maal. A new chairman for the Privatisation Commission has also been approved. The minister said an amendment has been approved in Section 35 of the PPRA Rules to expedite the process of buying urea for the upcoming wheat crop.
He said the cabinet also accorded approval to constitute a committee headed by Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood that will look into the matters of K-Electric and Shanghai Electric. The cabinet also gave approval to payment of the salaries of employees of Pakistan Steel Mills for the month of August.
Fawad said that the government is in favour of introducing a uniform educational system till grade 12. He also said the law minister is working on civil reforms. On the occasion, he reiterated that the government shall provide health cards to facilitate healthcare to citizens. He apprised the audience that tax reforms are underway. He further informed that the prime minister shall soon be visiting China and given the Pak-China ties, greater inflow of investments is expected.
The minister said Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser had issued production orders of Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif on the request of the opposition. “The speaker had shown large heartedness as during the remand period such orders are normally not issued,” the minister said, adding, “The parliament would get a chance to question Shahbaz regarding what he had done.” He expressed surprise over the appearance of opposition members on television screens and criticising the present government, who according to him should have been responding to the allegations about ruining the economy of the country. Fawad said he would soon submit a resolution in the National Assembly Secretariat for constitution of a parliamentary panel to investigate the causes of present economic crisis and pinpoint the ones responsible for it.