Austerity measures


THESE are extraordinary times on the economic front which warrant extraordinary decisions but these should be such that not only the general public but also the ruling elite bear their brunt. Rather the ruling class should lead from the front and voluntarily surrender all their perks and privileges which will not only indicate the seriousness of the situation but also send a positive message to the public.

It is a matter of satisfaction that some cabinet members belonging to the PML-N have decided to work without salaries keeping in view the severe economic crisis confronting the country. We really appreciate this gesture on their part but often it has been seen that such announcements are made by the top government officials but they continue enjoying other perks and privileges such as using the official vehicles, petrol and so on. These ministers should also further clarify that they will also not accept any privileges they are entitled to. Most of these cabinet members belong to well off families and they can afford their own cars and expenses of their fuel. The cabinet members belonging to other political parties such as the PPP, the JUI(F) and the MQM should also follow the PML-N suit.

Speaking in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will soon take the nation into confidence regarding the austerity measures. Some of the recommendations made by the austerity committee are very practical and these need to be implemented in letter and spirit. We are not for decreasing the salaries of public sector employees who in fact have been the worst affectees of the current wave of inflation in the country. As a result of new revenue measures, pressure will further mount on them.

Therefore, if the government cannot extend any relief to them at present, then it should also abstain from further squeezing their pockets.  But other measures such as recovering plots from top bureaucrats and powerful segments of the society will be a step in the right direction. Each ministry and their attached departments should be given a task to reduce their expenditure ranging from energy consumption to some other unnecessary expenditures.  We will have to pursue this course as well as strengthen our productive sectors in order to steer the country out of the current quagmire.