Pakistan-Salary cuts, ban on ‘unnecessary’ visits

PM Shehbaz Sharif (centre) addresses a press conference in Islamabad

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Wednesday unveiled a host of austerity measures to save Rs200 billion — aimed to keep the country afloat as the nation buckles up to meet the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) conditions.

Pakistan is desperate to unlock the next tranche worth $1.1 billion loan facility with the IMF but is struggling to meet tough conditions set by the global financier.

The IMF is demanding that Pakistan boosts its pitifully low tax base, end exemptions for the export sector, and raise artificially low energy prices that are meant to help poor families.

The nation is in dire need of funds as it battles a wrenching economic crisis as the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP)-held foreign exchange reserves barely cover one month of imports.

Addressing a press conference flanked by cabinet members, the premier announced that the ministers and advisers to the premier have “voluntarily” decided not to take salaries from the government in order to save millions from the national exchequer.

The prime minister said that austerity measures were a priority for the coalition government, and the ongoing situation also demands the nation as a whole cut down their expenses and move towards a simple lifestyle.

He appealed to Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, chief justices of all high courts, the lower courts, and the chief ministers of all four provinces to the federal government’s measures.

The prime minister said that it was crucial for the leaders to adopt the austerity measures as the country is facing an uphill task on the economic front.

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