Discretionary funds banned for President, PM, MNAs

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Cabinet sticks to five-day working week

Zahid Chaudhary

Islamabad

The federal cabinet at its second meeting in a week on Friday decided to abolish all discretionary funds and continue with five -day work week, relieving the employees who appeared to be concerned when heard reports that a proposal is being considered by the cabinet to increase working days to six for government offices.
A summary seeking to increase working days to six for government offices was presented during the cabinet meeting. According to the summary, government offices will remain open on Saturday. Fawad Chaudhary, Information Minister, however, whilst addressing the media after the cabinet meeting stated that the cabinet has decided to continue with five-day work week, but the work hours have changed. The new work hours will be from 9am to 5pm.
The cabinet also decided to abolish discretionary funds for ministers, MPs and the prime minister.
Chaudhry, terming it the “most important announcement” of the meeting, criticised the previous government for doling out huge funds to MNAs. He said former PM Nawaz Sharif in his last year as the premier used Rs21 billion as part of the discretionary funds. MPAs were given Rs30b, he said, adding from now onwards, the development projects will be discussed in parliament and their approval will be given after a detailed review. If required we will bring a legislative amendment to implement the change, he added. Fawad Chaudhry added that PM Imran will not use his special plane for foreign visits. The prime minister will not travel first but on club class.
The government has also decided to discontinue the facility of first class travel to all ministries, who will now use club class. The Power Division also briefed the cabinet about the current load shedding situation. It highlighted that claims regarding load shedding being ended by the previous government were incorrect. Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan are the worse hit by load shedding. Prime Minister Imran Khan sought a detailed report on the power and gas systems in the country. The cabinet also decided to carry out forensic audit of mass-transport projects in Multan, Islamabad, Lahore, as well as the Orange train project, started under the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government. The government will also carry out audit of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa metro project. “Billions were spent on these projects. Despite spending so much money, they still require funds to operate. If need be the the ] FIA will be tasked to investigate this,” Fawad Chaudhry said.
Urban tree plantation project will be launched in major cities. Details will be given next month by the environment minister. Chaudhry said this is the need of the hour, especially in Karachi due to the heat wave in the city. A taskforce has been formed to formulate plans for carrying out cleanliness drive on a major scale in the country.
During the meeting PM Imran directed to form a taskforce to overview matters related to slums across the country. The information minister said the projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will be completed at any cost, and no hurdle will be allowed in the way.

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