LAHORE ': Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Sunday said the government would take drastic steps to save ‘insolvent’ state institutions from incurring further losses to the exchequer.
Talking to media persons, the minister said that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) had incurred losses worth Rs45 billion to the national kitty. Similarly, he added, Radio Pakistan suffered a loss of Rs1.25 billion in the past year alone.
“Pakistan has now changed… the military and judiciary are standing behind the civilian government,” he said. “Pakistan is moving forward under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan who is a unique phenomenon on the country’s political horizon.”
Chaudhry said once it was the country’s poor who had rallied against the system as a result of the struggle of PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, “but this time, the country’s middle class has revolted against the status quo under Imran Khan”.
He admitted that a huge responsibility lay on the government’s shoulders and “it needs to deliver to the expectations of the people”. He said Imran Khan’s team comprised Finance Minister Asad Umar, Energy Minister Omer Ayub Khan, Advisor on Commerce and Trade Abdul Razzak Dawood and Minister for Planning Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar – “all of whom are experts in their fields”.
Calling Imran Khan a symbol of change, the minister said that he had repeatedly proved himself – in cricket by winning the World Cup in 1992; and in philanthropy by setting up a cancer hospital. “We could not have made it to the assemblies without Imran Khan,” he said.
Speaking about the government’s austerity measures, Chaudhry said the country was under huge foreign debt and the prime minister had personally chosen to live a simple life in line with the government’s policy.
He said Pakistan had a foreign debt of Rs6 trillion when former military ruler Pervez Musharraf had stepped down. It swelled to Rs13 trillion when the PPP’s term ended in 2013 but during the five years of the PML-N government, the foreign debt had surged to Rs28 trillion, he added.
The minister said the government had decided to cut back on extravagant expenditure to decrease the burden on the national exchequer.
He claimed that the PML-N government had bought 33 luxury vehicles worth Rs980 million for the Saarc conference that did not take place. Maintenance expenses on these vehicles amounted to Rs350 million, he said, adding that the government had decided to auction all those vehicles.
Chaudhry said the country was plagued with corruption.