Pakistan

PM promises quick results from cost-cutting efforts

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif outlined his administration’s comprehensive plan to curb government spending and combat corruption in an address to the National Assembly on Tuesday.

In a landmark decision, Sharif announced the abolition of the Pakistan Public Works Department, citing extensive corruption within its budget. He also introduced a new rightsizing committee led by Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb to streamline government operations, with a promise of significant results soon.

Sharif highlighted his government’s dedication to regional development, especially in southern Punjab. He noted that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has consistently provided budgets and job opportunities that surpass the region’s population ratio.

Specific measures include a 10% increase in funding for southern Punjab under national programs like the laptop distribution and PM Rozgar schemes. Additionally, the Zevar Taleem Programme has significantly raised stipends for female students from Rs200 to Rs1000.

Federal investments in key infrastructure projects, such as the Lodhran-Khanewal and Dera Ghazi Khan-Muzaffargarh motorways, were also emphasized. Responding to opposition concerns, Sharif assured that the impact of these initiatives would be visible within six weeks.

National Assembly debates economic and infrastructure issues

As discussions on the Budget 2024-25 continued, members of the National Assembly addressed various economic and infrastructure concerns.

Mohammad Ilyas Choudhary (PML-N) advocated for increasing foreign remittances by providing better facilities and incentives to overseas Pakistanis, suggesting this could ease the country’s economic woes.

Ali Khan Jadoon (Sunni Ittehad Council, SIC) called for tax reductions for the business community, citing the fragile state of the industrial sector. He compared global practices, noting tax exemptions for imports in other countries and rebates for importers in China. Jadoon also warned that taxing agricultural machinery could harm crop production.

Rana Muhammad Faraz Noon (SIC) backed initiatives like the Sukkur-Hyderabad Motorway and a recycling plant for sacred papers, while pushing for tax exemptions on children’s milk.

Mohammad Usman Badini (Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Pakistan, JUI-P) expressed concern over delays in LPG plant constructions in Balochistan and urged improvements in the coal mining sector.

Dawar Khan Kundi (SIC) highlighted the adverse effects of the war on terror in South Waziristan, calling for financial aid for locals impacted by landmines.

Umair Khan Niazi (SIC) stressed the importance of merit-based government appointments and improved services at Mother and Child Hospitals to reduce child mortality rates. He also advocated for policies on water reservoirs, solar energy, and agriculture.

Mehboob Shah (SIC) requested a ten-year tax exemption for businesses in Dir, Malakand Division, and the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), citing their prolonged conflict-related challenges.

Zubair Khan (SIC) called for thorough investigations into terrorist presence despite border fencing.

Shabbir Ali Qureshi (SIC) appealed for more funding to develop South Punjab and restore Kot Addu’s district status, emphasizing the lack of higher education institutions in the area and supporting the timely completion of the COMSATS University project.

Awais Haider Jakhar (SIC) underscored the need for gender equality to drive economic growth and called for improved infrastructure in Layyah, including electricity, gas, and a dedicated heart disease hospital.

The session highlighted diverse concerns and proposals aimed at addressing the country’s pressing economic and developmental challenges.

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