10-member austerity corps formed to cut spending

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has formed a 10-member committee to ensure the implementation of austerity measures, as it seeks to cut spending to reduce fiscal debt, Dawn.com reported on Friday.

According to a notification from the finance division dated July 7, the minister of finance will lead the committee as chairman. Its members will include the Ministers for Planning, Communication, Trade, Maritime Affairs and the Minister of State for Finance. Secretaries from the Ministries of Finance, Planning and Industries will also be part of the committee in addition to the additional finance secretary.

The Committee’s mandate is to periodically review and ensure the implementation of austerity measures and related matters for the year, to solicit proposals from key accountants to reduce expenditures and to approve proposals for easing measures approved.

The committee will also constitute a separate body to examine the necessity and usefulness of autonomous bodies, public enterprises, companies and authorities.

The Finance Division also issued a desk memorandum, also dated July 7, noting that extraordinary measures needed to be taken to ensure “rational use of public money” in addition to cutting spending.

The notification reiterated the ban on purchasing all types of vehicles except commercial vehicles, including ambulances, buses for educational institutions and for solid waste; creation of new positions except those necessary for development projects; treatment abroad at government expense; and daily betting appointments except for development projects.

A ban was also imposed on the purchase of office furniture, machinery and equipment and on unnecessary official visits abroad by government officials; official lunches/dinners/hi-tea except for foreign delegations; and periodicals, magazines and newspapers.

The main accountants have been ordered to reduce the consumption of public services by 10% and that of civil servants’ gasoline by 30%; and reduce avoidable travel by promoting online meetings.

The federal government has also decided to reduce the fuel consumption of ministers’ vehicles by 40% and the security vehicles of cabinet members by 50%, as well as the expenses of VVIP cavalcades without compromising safety, the memorandum said.

Posted in Dawn, July 9, 2022

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