ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Sunday called for civilian oversight of military spending and urged that Rs643 billion set aside for the armed forces in the 2012-13 budget should be audited.
“The defence budget, which has been enhanced by 10.2% in comparison to last fiscal year, should come under public scrutiny,” PTI Chairman Imran Khan told a news conference on Sunday.
Imran, who was flanked by his economic aides, also stressed that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) should be fully empowered to independently investigate corruption in bureaucracy. He lamented rampant corruption in the country and said “Either corrupt people or Pakistan will survive,” he added.
The PTI chief demanded austere lifestyle from political leadership in order to spare more money for public sector development. “The government should slash the amount budgeted for the Presidency and the Prime Minister House.”
About the energy crisis, Imran said: “The outstanding arrears, according to the Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco), result from 400,000 illegal electricity connections. But consumers are made to pay for the shortfall in the shape of frequent tariff increases.”
To a question, Imran claimed that 61% of parliamentarians do not pay their taxes. “The budget for upcoming fiscal year is a sham. The entire exercise is aimed at taxing the poor and spending the money collected on the rich.”
He regretted that more than half of Pakistan’s revenue is spent on debt-servicing or paying interest on loans. “How can you provide relief to people when the country is under enormous debt?”
The PTI chief said that if voted to power in the next parliamentary election his party would balance spending with income.
PTI’s economic wizard Jahangir Tareen said that the country’s GDP growth had stagnated for the last four years due to corruption, energy crisis and failure of the government in addressing economic woes.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2012.
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