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    Friday, 24 August 2018

    Govt bans discretionary funds of president, PM and ministers

    In what Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry described as "a historic decision", Prime Minister Imran Khan's cabinet on Friday decided to ban the use of discretionary funds of the president, premier and MNAs in view of the new government's austerity drive.
    Chaudhry, who held a press conference after a cabinet meeting, claimed that the previous government had used Rs51 billion in discretionary funds in the last year alone, of which Rs21bn was used by former PM Nawaz Sharif, while Rs30bn was given to MNAs to spend.
    Chaudhry, while observing how Sharif would announce development projects during public gatherings, especially around the time the Panama Papers were released, described the act of spending money impulsively as "contempt of taxpayers' money".
    He added that before any infrastructural project is announced, it would be discussed in Parliament and then expenditure would be made.
    Chaudhry also said that it had been decided that PM Khan would not use the special plane provided to premiers for foreign visits, nor would he travel first class.
    Instead he will choose to travel in "club class", Chaudhry said, referring to a class of air travel that is below first class, but higher than economy class. He added that all ministers would also travel in club class.
    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".
    Working timings for govt employees
    Referring to a summary regarding a possible new work week and timings for government employees that was discussed during the cabinet meeting, Chaudhry announced that government employees will now work from 9am-5pm instead of 8am-3pm.
    He added that Saturday would remain a holiday, quelling earlier fears that people might have to work six days a week.
    Audit of mass transit projects
    Chaudhry announced that the cabinet had also decided that a forensic audit of the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa mass transit systems must be conducted.
    "A forensic audit of the projects is to be carried out and, if necessary, the Federal Investigation Agency can then carry out an investigation," he added.
    Additionally, the cabinet has also approved urban tree plantation plans for Karachi, Lahore, Quetta and Peshawar, for which the environment minister will provide details next month, he said.
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