PM hints at closing loss-making depts

Shehbaz takes credit for taming inflation in 100 days

Rizwan Shahzad June 16, 2024
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. PHOTO: FILE


Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday said the government departments and institutions incurring losses worth billions to the national exchequer would be shut down once a committee completed its review of the matter.

In his maiden televised address to the nation, the premier noted that it was the first duty of the government to reduce lavish expenses as well as to shut down departments and ministries not related to public services, including the Pakistan Public Works Department (Pak-PWD).

“It [Pak-PWD] was included among those institutions that were infamous for corruption.” The premier explained that a ministerial committee was formed to deliberate on the issue of these redundant ministries and departments.

“[This move] will bring positive results in the next two months and all such departments, which have become a burden on the country and its people, will be shut down.”

PM Shehbaz highlighted his government’s 100-day performance and shared its future plans by promising that the upcoming programme of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would be the last one for the country if it was strictly implemented just like it did in 2017 during premiership of his elder brother, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif.

“Inshallah, this will be the last IMF programme in Pakistan’s history. We will stand on our feet and surpass our neighbouring countries in economic activities,” the premier pledged.

He continued that it was not an emotional promise as he firmly believed that Pakistan could outperform its neighbouring countries.

PM Shehbaz regretted that the country had already availed around two dozen IMF programmes since inception and still dependant on its assistance.

“There are nations in the world that only entered an IMF programme once and never went back to it for monetary assistance.”

Shedding light on the measures taken by his government in its first 100 days, the premier said its prudent policies had caused inflation to reduce from 38% to 12%, the interest rate to fall from 22% to 20% and a decline in the prices of petroleum products.

He added that the government had sidelined the incompetent officers of the Federal Board of

Revenue (FBR) and began its digitisation.

“This has resulted in a 30% increase in revenue this year.”

The prime minister made it clear that there was no place for corrupt and incompetent people in government departments anymore.

PM Shehbaz further said he had announced a “relief package” worth over Rs200 billion for industrial electricity consumers through a 24% reduction in their current per unit rates.

He added that he had approved the reduction in electricity tariff for the industrial sector by Rs10.69 per unit in order to boost production and exports.

The prime minister pointed out that after the budget announcement, the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) saw a historic surge, reaching around 77,000 points.

In addition, PM Shehbaz highlighted his recent visits to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and China among other countries, revealing that investment of billions of dollars was on its way to Pakistan.

“I have been seeking investment and trade only during my visits to the friendly countries instead of loans.”

On investment, the prime minister specifically lauded the efforts of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Asim Munir and interim premier Anwaarul Haq Kakar, saying they had visited the friendly countries as well and helped in paving the way for investment into the country.

PM Shehbaz said the deals had been finalised with the friendly countries and the groundwork laid for trade relations to prosper further in the coming years.

However, he stressed the need for ensuring that the country’s internal economic activity was thriving first.

The premier said after the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) was established, he had been assuring other countries and investors that their investment would be safe and hassle-free in Pakistan.

He continued that he had told them that the government had completed all the arrangements for this purpose.

PM Shehbaz said that investment was expected through the forum of the SIFC in the industrial, agricultural, information technology and minerals sectors in the coming months and years.

The premier also announced that China would train 300,000 Pakistanis every year to help spread information technology throughout the country, enabling it to join the global race.

PM Shehbaz emphasised that a suitable environment would also be created for the domestic investors.

“Competent investors are awaiting the proper opportunities for making investment in different sectors,” he added.

“The focus of the government is on simultaneously increasing domestic and foreign investment in the country.”

The premier highlighted the importance of making tough decisions for the sake of the country.

“I will not come under pressure from anyone, and hopefully, we will become a great nation. I cannot do this alone; I need your help every step of the way.”

He continued without the people’s assistance, the “great dream” could not be achieved.

PM Shehbaz urged the people to pledge to work together to change the fate of the country.

The premier acknowledged the economic disparity in the country, noting that while the poor struggle had one meal a day, the affluent class spent millions on weddings.

“The poor man is struggling to have one meal, whereas [there are] people earning millions in profits without even doing anything,” he observed.

“The affluent class spends millions on weddings, while the poor struggle to get their children married.”

PM Shehbaz praised the overseas Pakistanis who had sent $3 billion in remittances in April, reflecting their belief in the country’s prosperous future.

The premier further said a Rs20 billion endowment fund had been established for children in Punjab.

He vowed that hundreds and thousands of children in the merged tribal districts as well as in Balochistan would receive education under the endowment fund.

Recalling the time when he assumed power in April 2022, PM Shehbaz said the economic situation was so difficult back then that Pakistan was on the verge of default.

He added that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government had saved the country from defaulting on its debts and placed it on the right track in the subsequent months and years.



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