–Stresses the need for putting the country on the road to development, progress
–Announces cut down in PM house expenses, staff; to turn the house into research university
–Goes tough on opponents, promises to bring effective check on money laundering
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday promised austerity, rule of law, human development, and tax regimen overhaul in his ‘Naya Pakistan’ as he acknowledged multipronged challenges faced by the country.
During his maiden address to the nation, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman and newly appointed PM vowed to transform Pakistan into an Islamic welfare state through all-encompassing reforms in different spheres of life.
In his wide-ranging speech, he announced a number of measures aimed at austerity, getting rid of loans, domestic resource mobilisation and reforms in education, health and agriculture sectors. The PM said his 22-year-long political struggle was aimed at establishing an Islamic welfare state on the model of the state of Madina—established by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
He claimed that the West progressed and prospered by following the principles pursued by Madina “but in Pakistan, people come to power to mint money.”
Referring to the dismal economy, he said economic difficulties were not as bad in the history of the country as compared to today. “The debt burden increased from Rs 6,000 billion to 28, 000 billion rupees during the last ten years,” he said.
He said in the past the country had to secure 2 billion dollar loan annually to pay back its debt, but “today, we have to take two billion dollars every month to pay back just interest on loans obtained in the past”.
Imran Khan said apart from debt burden, Pakistan is at the lowest at the human development index; people are forced to drink polluted water and rate of child-mother mortality is very high.
NO LUXURIES FOR PM:
The prime minister said, on the one hand, the country is under the tremendous burden of debt but, on the other hand, there was a lavish living style. He said there are 524 employees at the PM House, which is spread over 1,100 Kanal; eighty vehicles, including 33 bullet proof vehicles; and helicopter and aircraft at the disposal of PM House. He said the former prime minister incurred Rs 650 million on foreign visits.
He stated that the government has to change its ways and establish the rule of law to bring about a change. The prime minister announced establishment of a task force under his advisor Dr Ishrat Hussain to suggest measures for reducing expenditure of the government.
PM Khan said he would himself make a beginning by discarding use of PM House as his official residence. Instead, he said, he would reside in a three-room house which was previously used by the military secretary of the prime minister.
He said PM House would be converted into a university meant for research in science and technology and costly vehicles of the PM House would be auctioned.
Austerity measures would also be implemented in governor houses and chief minister houses and a committee of intellectuals would be formed to propose utilisation of these houses for the future, he claimed.
PM Khan also announced setting up of a high-powered task force to bring back the looted money stashed abroad, saying that at least ten billion dollars go out of the country every year that has to be stopped.
He said in a population of 200 million only eight hundred thousand people are tax payers and “we will have to make sacrifices to help the country stand on its own feet”. “Instead of seeking foreign loans, his government would mobilise local resources.”
PM Khan said reforms in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) would be one of his priorities as he appealed to the people to pay taxes for the sake of the country.
The PM said a consultative council has been established to suggest measures for increase in exports. He said steps would be taken for attracting investment and promoting the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
He also expressed his resolve to encourage Pakistanis so that they remit money through official banking channels. He said Pakistani missions abroad will also have to play their role in this regard.
The PM said he would hold a meeting with National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman to discuss ways and means to address the menace of corruption effectively. He said the possibility of further empowerment of the bureau will also be explored.
He said like KP, a whistle blower act would also be introduced in other provinces whereby a percentage of the recovered looted money would be given to the informer.
PM Khan said he would keep the interior ministry with him to keep an effective check on money laundering. He asked people to support him in his campaign to hold the corrupt accountable.
The PM said he would also hold a meeting with chief Justice for reformation of the system of dispensation of justice. He said trial of cases should not go beyond one year.
He referred to police reforms in KP during the last five years and said former police officer Nasir Durrani would be assigned a consultative role in Punjab to help reform the police.
The prime minister also announced plans for reforms in civil service to restore its past glory. He said there would be no political interference in the working of the civil service but the civil servants will have to deliver.
He said a right to services act would be enforced envisaging reward and penalty for good or poor output by public dealing organisations.
BASIC FACILITIES, SERVICES:
The PM also pledged to improve working and performance of public schools so that they impart quality education to all. He said it is also right of students of seminaries to become doctors and engineers.
Similarly, he said, a task force is being formed to improve conditions of government hospitals. Health Insurance Cards would be introduced all over the country allowing the holder to get medical treatment worth five hundred and fifty thousand rupees annually.
He said a full-fledged the Ministry of Water would be created to address the issue of water shortages and how to conserve water. He said “we have to build Diamer-Bhasha Dam at all costs”.
He said the government would also focus on agricultural research and it would be endeavour to reduce the cost of input for farmers.
The prime minister also expressed the resolve to implement all the twenty points of National Action Plan to eliminate the menace of terrorism.
He said conditions in Karachi will have to be improved as it is deeply linked with the betterment of Pakistan.
He said there is need for South Punjab province and his government would move towards that end.
He also announced that every effort would be made to bring estranged Baloch in the national mainstream and improve conditions in tribal areas.
The prime minister said “we will have to take extra care of street children, widows and disadvantaged segments of the society to make Pakistan a welfare state.”
Turning to foreign policy, he said Pakistan wants best of relations with all countries, including its neighbours. He said Pakistan believes in peace as there can be no progress and development without peace and security.