Austerity measures


IN accordance with its austerity drive, the Government has placed complete ban on purchase of all types of vehicle both for current as well as development expenditure, banned creation of new posts; entitlement of periodicals, magazines, newspapers and ordered rationalization of utility consumption i.e. electricity, gas, telephone, water and the expenditure on purchase of assets, repair and maintenance and other operational expenditure. An Austerity Committee has been constituted to review the critical, unavoidable and significant proposals only in respect of purchase of vehicles and creation of posts.
The spirit with which the measures have been conceived and are being taken is appreciable as the country is passing through an economic and financial crunch and every penny matters. The Government can save a lot by ensuring prevention of wasteful expenditure, which runs into billions. However, there are reasons to believe that the measures as listed above are cosmetic in nature and instead of promoting the culture of austerity these might have a negative impact on the overall performance and productivity of the governmental machinery. These measures remained in place almost during entire tenure of PML-N Government and the last one year of PTI but those with watchful eyes say the money is being wasted as in the past. There are reports that purchase of new vehicles continued for high government officials, ministers and parliamentary secretaries even when the Government was selling vehicles from the existing fleet. And there seems to be no interest to save billions that go in waste due to illegal use of official vehicles. Government officers get huge amounts in the name of conveyance but they continue to misuse official vehicles not just for themselves but also for their families. Official vehicles are also used for pick up and drop of children to and from educational institutions and excursion trips besides shopping by families of these officers. There is also virtual ban on new recruitments but influential people continue to get jobs for their near and dear ones at the cost of the common man who might be more suitable for these jobs because of his/her qualification, experience and expertise. Otherwise too, this measure is in contravention of the public commitments of the government leadership to provide jobs to millions of people. How jobs would be provided when you are banning recruitment, placing restrictions on creation of new posts, there is no worthwhile developmental activities to spur job growth and the private sector is constrained to squeeze due to various reasons. Official telephones are also massively being misused but the focus remains on placing restrictions on stationery and ‘use of two sides of the paper’. The authorities should, therefore, review these cosmetic measures and take genuine steps to save tax-payers’ money.