With due apologies to Governments Spokesmen and Spokeswomen , my submission is that PPP Government of today is the most extravagant government in Pakistan’s history My submission is that fifty per cent of Government expenditure can be easily reduced without in the least affecting government performance. In my humble view this is my considered view perhaps more economy is possible but I am limiting to as little cut as will not matter at all in the running of the Government I am making this statement with full responsibility having some experience in budgeting and economizing expenditure. It is not a hyperbole and I can do it easily The Allaley Tallaley of this government remind one of the days of Aliph Laila and One night episodes.
What I am saying is with full sense of reality and not as a flight of imagination. I had twice experience of Budget making and controlling Ministry of Foreign Affairs Budget. I had complete control over the Budget of the Military Pact of US, UK, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan, CENTO, as Chairman of Budget and Administration Committee, when if I recollect correctly I reduced the CENTO Budget by may be 45 %. The (Iranian) Secretary General. Mr Khalatbari, complianed to the Council Deputies the Highest Body of the Pact that one ( that is) me or two Members ( myself and Turkish Representative Inal Yamanar) have drastically reduced the budget to the extent that it will ground to halt CENTO activities. I informed the Committee that I feel that even after the year there would still be savings, and we assured the Council that if the reductions affected CENTO activities we will provide the required funds, All this is recorded in the Minutes of the B& A Committee and Council Minutes. It so happened that there were savings at the end of the year following our guidelines. The Dy. Secretary General of Finance and Administration, Afzal Saeed Khan, a thorough gentleman- later Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Z A Bhutto.- used to say Qureshi kiya kar rahey ho. CENTO ko tabah na karo!.
The other time I had experience of control the budget when II was tipped to be the next Foreign Secretary in place of Shah Nawaz who was tipped to be Ambassador to France but. The Budget had already been approved but I controlled the expenditure with a very tight fist and when the year was over I had saved a good percentage of the budget some thing like twenty per cent or so.
Let me say what are the major heads in which there is always much room for savings/economizing: First by refusing to increase in number of new posts and new branches in the Government, House rents or hiring better houses for the new appointees, changing furnitures, delegations sent abroad particularly of the President and Prime Minister, purchasing new transport for ministers, increase in entertainment of high ups, expenses on Staff and maintenance of the Houses, or Government buildings for PM and the Presidents, Entertainment of Ministers, Prime Minister and the President. And creating new Ministries and staff for new departments and ministries, bringing outsiders to Government posts on extraordinary salaries.
Let me give some example, a little old but scale remains the same. During 1958-60 I was Under Secretary Indian Affairs in the Foreign Office when our relations with India dominated our foreign relations There were mini battles on the border. I became the Focal Person on India and very routinely visited the PM and President Offices and was taken even to the Cabinet Defence Committee meetings when Border War-like matters were discussed there. I would be called for briefing on Indian issues. President Office. Prime Minister Office will normally call me for latest information, I was a member of all highest level Delegations to India, even on Noon-Nehru negotiations etc.
What I remember is that President’s Staff –in Ayub’s days- consisted of Mr Qudrat-ullh Shehab then a Deputy Secretary status, as President’s Secretary Perhaps he was later elevated as Secretary, Jamiluddin Aali was Information officer, an Assistant Secretary whose name I have forgotten, N D Ahmed was Secretary to the Prime Minister (a Section officer/ Dy Chief of Protocol in Foreign Office earlier)Feroze Khan Noon PM Secretariat consisted of Agha Hamid an ICS Officer-later Dy Secty Gen UN for Information, Altaf Gauher as Deputy Secretary-later on General Ayub Khan\s Staff, etc. What a poor country’s poor staff? Same was General Zia ul Haq’s Personal staff. As against this I passed through a road in Islamabad, and read a sign “ Housing Colony of the PM’s Secretariat” !!
The number of Ministries and “Divisions” have increased alarmingly even after the transfer of some ministries to provinces the number of ministers is extraordinary. May I recall that the first Cabinet of the Quaid was of nine persons, four from West, four from the East and one Minority community minister, Joginder Nath Mandal. “Militray dictator” Ayub Khan’s cabinet of Ministers and Ministers of State was 16, and so on so forth. It costs public to have a haram of Ministers just as creation of high posts. I was promoted to 22 grade in 1982 . How many officers were in that grade then. Now as the idiom goes remove any stone and you find dozens of 21 and 22 grade officers, and special inductees on lacs of Rupees per month. Really public money is being used without realizing where from it comes. The whim of the powerful treats public money as water.
It has become routine like matter for PM and the President to lead delegations to foreign countries. First it reduces the importance of what is called Summit level talks when they become routine. The importance of Summit is lost if it becomes routine. Then the take barats with them. Do they realize this act of pleasing the unnecessary persons in the delegation costs crores of Rupees? Pleasure trips to please favourites in political brotherhood is a political crime. There is no need taking too many staff even to service the leader. There are Embassies abroad their staaff can be utilized for stenographic assistance, officers for briefing on the subject. Deputy leaders can be the local ambassadors or High Commissioners if the purpose of the delegation is to do some work and not a photo session of the big wig. Let me count here a real Nawabzada, Liaquat’s famous delegation to US in 1950. It consisted of 3including himself and two others were Begum Liaquat (a former Professor of Economics) and Foreign Secreatry Ikramullah. Three only. He took from Pak Delegation to UN ZA Bokahri, from Washington Embassy Brigadier Raza as his Military Secretary, Press Minister of the Embassy as his PRO etc. “Military dictator” Ayub on his state visit to France went with four others. The taking of Barats and wasting public money has become on a mega scale the habit of Democratic bosses.
Entertainment allowances have become Hatim Tai’s open houses. Hai hai, in India is also called “democracy” Some time compare their budgets, I have been on Indian delegation entertainment to our Prime Minister by Nehru. They were simple affairs. They care for their money. Every big wig now wants a new most expensive car as his official car. Bloated vanity of waderas. They want new furnitures, new carpets and what not. Poor Finance Minister has no choice but to comply with the strong recommendations of PM and President. The public budget is for politicking of the bosses.To call such a system as democracy which enjoys life style at the expense of his tax payer is a joke. Wadera cracy yes.
This is the time when matters have cooled down to say that protocol means good manners among high ups in public life. I think Shahbaz Sharif should have received the President if he was coming on state affairs but if it was a job he was doing as his Party boss the President should have himself excused him from receiving him at the airport. Since Mr Zardari goes as a Party President he should always clarify in what position he is coming on visit. But where he is going as President of the country every Pakistani should comply with the protocol which in simple language means complying with the requirements of politeness to each other.