Islamabad (Pakistan), March 4
Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's office has sought PKR 75 million or 16 per cent additional budget for allowances, fuel, and food rather than placing a cut on the expenses, The Express Tribune reported. The decision of PM Sharif comes in violation of its own national austerity policy.
The additional funds have been sought by the internal wing of the PM's Office with the permission of Shehbaz Sharif, The Express Tribune reported citing documents. Sources have revealed that the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has already quietly given approval to PKR 18.5 million supplementary grant out of the PKR 75 million demanded by the Pakistan PM's Office. According to the sources, the money was given for expenses related to employees.
In a bid to keep the matter a secret, Pakistan's Ministry of Finance in its official handout has not shared details regarding the allocation of an additional PKR 18.5 million to the PM's office. Pakistan PM's office has raised the demand for funds for offsetting the impact of "inflation, price hikes, specifically POL and food items," as per The Express Tribune report.
Pakistan National Assembly for the current fiscal year had approved a PKR 993 million budget for the PM’s Office. The funds included PKR 465 million for the PM's internal office and PKR 528 million for the PM's public wing, as per the news report.
According to the details, Pakistan PM's office has sought an increase of PKR 75 million in the internal wing's budget, which will take the total internal wing budget to PKR 540 million. According to the National Austerity Policy announced by Shehbaz Sharif, the PM's internal wing budget had to be reduced by 15% or PKR 70 million. However, PM's office has called for additional funds.
The sources revealed that the matter was discussed during the last ECC meeting, according to The Express Tribune report. Some members of the ECC said that the cabinet body should not give additional grants to the PM office, stressing that it would be perceived as negative due to the prevailing economic conditions.
Reportedly, Pakistan's Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was initially against the demand. However, he later approved the additional amount to the extent of employee-related expenses.
The PM Office wrote to the ECC that the internal wing was responsible for holding and arranging official commitments of the prime minister, which needed financial provisions, as per The Express Tribune report.
The PM's office stressed that the allocated budget is being used as per the austerity measures. However, it stressed that additional funds were required for employee-related expenses. According to the documents, Shehbaz Sharif had seen the documents.
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