The monitoring committee to oversee the implementation of austerity measures has expressed serious concerns over the use of vehicles above 1,800cc by some officers and directed all the authorities to immediately stop the use of all these cars, reported state-run Radio Pakistan.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had asked ministers and advisers last month to fly economy class and forgo luxury cars and their salaries as part of an austerity drive that will save the government Rs200 billion ($766 million) a year.
The belt-tightening came as Islamabad — which is facing a balance of payment crisis — thrashes out a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to secure funds worth $1 billion which have been pending since late last year over policy issues.
Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen below a month’s import cover and the expenditure cuts which were announced are part of an effort to stave off an economic meltdown.
The committee that met in Islamabad on Monday — with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the chair — reviewed the implementation of the decisions of its first meeting on the implementation of austerity measures.
The meeting was updated on the status of the use of luxury vehicles and was apprised that a majority of the allocated vehicles have been returned by the cabinet members.
The forum expressed concerns over the non-return of the remaining luxury vehicles and directed the Cabinet Division to strictly implement the decision and to get back the luxury vehicles within three days.
The meeting also deliberated on the withdrawal of the use of security vehicles and decided to implement the decision in letter and spirit.
The Ministry of Law and Justice was tasked to approach the superior judiciary, with the suggestion of implementing austerity measures in the judiciary and approach the Senate chairman and National Assembly speaker regarding the use of teleconferences for all meetings to save time and expenditure.
The meeting was also informed that the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination has already approached the provincial governments suggesting the implementation of similar austerity measures.
The committee also discussed the working timings and decided that the new timing for office work will be 7:30 am to 2:30 pm and up to 12:30 pm on Fridays starting from the first of Ramzan and will be followed in the summer season as per the decision of the cabinet.
A notification will be issued accordingly.
Speaking on the occasion, the finance minister directed all to expedite the implementation of austerity measures with sincerity and true spirit without any exception.