–Prioritises power sector reforms, subsidies; terms growing pension bill one of biggest
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan told members of his cabinet on Tuesday that time to uplift the performance of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government to take it to “higher levels” was upon them as he urged the ministers to step up their game for the remaining time of their five-year tenure.
Addressing a ceremony to sign “Performance Agreements of the Federal Government for the Year 2020-21” in Islamabad, the prime minister said, “We will put pressure on ourselves to take our governance performance to much higher levels in our remaining two-and-a-quarter years.”
On the occasion, PM Imran admitted that his government did not “have excuses anymore” and that it was “the time for performance now”. At the time of transfer of power from one government to another after general elections, all previous leaderships should provide a complete briefing to their successors, he stressed.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), federal ministers of various ministries signed performance agreements with the prime minister.
The premier called the signing of performance agreements “a step in the right direction” and said that the performance of each ministry will be judged based on the contracts and every ministry will put pressure on itself to meet its targets.
“After all, the public has to decide after five years whether we made their lives better or not; whether we fulfilled the promises made to them or not,” he said, adding that the biggest challenge would come from the power sector.
Stressing that “such a complex and complicated sector” often kept him awake at night, he conceded that there were a number of facets which needed to be “rationalised and synchronised” in order to provide power to the people at affordable rates.
The premier added that subsidies worth Rs2,500 billion was the second biggest challenge for his administration, noting that all countries provided subsidies to benefit the poor and to uplift their backward areas.
Furthermore, in regard to wealth generation, he said that if the exports did not rise, it could be difficult to free Pakistan from its circular debt. He did appreciate the fact that, for the fifth month in a row, Pakistan’s current account recorded a surplus. He said that the growing bill of pensions is also one of the biggest challenges the country is facing. He directed to formulate a comprehensive plan to meet this challenge.
PM Imran said that concentration will be further made on the agriculture sector to increase productivity and job opportunities for the youth. He said that the government is seeking China’s cooperation in the agriculture sector under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Talking about problems emerging after the transfer of powers and shifting of various subjects to provinces under 18th Amendment, the premier said, “We need to review the system for better performance.”
He questioned what the federal government can do if a province does not release wheat well in time, creating a difference in prices of the commodity. He said that in such situations, blame is shifted to the Centre.
Similarly, the ministry of environment has been devolved to provinces and the Centre cannot formulate a uniform policy. He said that this subject should also be kept with the federal government.
“We will have to work on all these distortions,” he further said.