Govt to end MPs’ discretionary funds, probe PML-N’s metro projects

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–Federal cabinet decides to carry out forensic audit of mass transit projects in Lahore, Islamabad and Multan

–Says no MP, including PM and ministers, will get discretionary funds, all development projects will be approved by parliament

–All VVIPs, including president, PM, CJP, will use club class for air travel

–Saturday remains a holiday as Friday becomes a full working day

 

ISLAMABAD:  The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has decided to end discretionary funds for members of parliament, ministers and the prime minister, as it announced its intention to conduct a forensic audit of the mass transit projects initiated during the PML-N government in Punjab.

In a press conference following the second meeting of the cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan at PM Office on Friday, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry hinted at large scale embezzlement in the mega projects, saying that in spite of billions of rupees spent on these projects, they still require funds to operate.

“The government will move the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) to investigate if needed,” the minister said.

The mass transit projects of the PML-N government had drawn Imran Khan’s ire in the past as well, who had called out the PML-N government for ‘rampant corruption’ in these projects.

Imran Khan had said in July that “Rs 60 billion were wasted on under-utilised Multan metro” which was started by the Sharif family to “mint money”.

Besides, Multan Metro Bus project came into the limelight after a controversy erupted that then Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif had taken a huge commission in the award of the project. However, Shehbaz had denied these claims, calling them a figment of the PTI chief’s imagination.

Besides, the seven-point agenda meeting also discussed abolition of discretionary funds, instructions on visits abroad, a presentation on load shedding, massive tree plantation in the country, shift to six working days in a week for government offices and the launch of a major cleanliness drive.

NO FUNDS, FOREIGN TRIPS FOR LAWMAKERS:

In a first, the PTI government has decided to put an end to discretionary funds for ministers, members of parliament and the prime minister as it criticised the previous governments for handing out funds to MNAs, including Rs 21 billion to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the last year. Also, the MPs were given Rs 30 billion for the same purpose, the info minister said, adding that the government will bring a legislative amendment to implement this.

The minister said that from now on, the development projects will be discussed in parliament and their approval will be given after a detailed review.

Moreover, the government may abolish the foreign trips by the ministers. The minister said that PM Khan will not use his special plane for foreign visits.

“Along with the prime minister, the president, foreign minister, the Senate chairman and national assembly speaker will no longer have the prerogative of flying first class, he added.

When asked by a reporter if these measures apply to the chief justice of Pakistan as well, the information minister replied: “Yes, the chief justice has also been requested to do the same”.

Regarding the treason trial against former general and president General (r) Pervez Musharraf, the information minister said the government will think about it if the matter is referred to the cabinet. It may be noted here that Gen Musharraf is declared an absconder by the court in a trial that pertains to treason against him.

FIVE WORKING DAYS A WEEK:

He said the government has also decided to keep Saturday as an off day; however, the working timings will be from 9am to 5pm instead of 8am to 3pm. The minister announced to make Friday a full working day as well.

With regard to the power outages, the power division gave a briefing to the cabinet which entailed that the previous government’s claims about eradicating load shedding hold no truth as it was still prevalent in all the provinces, except Punjab. At this, PM Khan summoned a complete detail on the issue.

The cabinet will review plans to carry out cleanliness drive on a major scale in the country besides a massive urban tree plantation scheme in all the major cities, the minister said, adding that this is the need of the hour, especially in Karachi to counter the heat wave.

He said the government wants to improve the living standard of people and resolve their issues and a task force will be set up to resolve the problems of slums in order to bring them into the mainstream.