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Govt to recover billions of rupees spent by heads of state on their foreign trips

17 July, 2019

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The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has decided in principle to recover billions of rupees spent by the previous heads of state on their security and foreign trips from the national exchequer.

Details of the expenditures were presented in the federal cabinet’s meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday. According to the documents, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif spent nearly Rs 4.32 billion on his camp office and medical expenses. Similarly, former president Asif Ali Zardari spent Rs 3.17 billion under the mentioned heads.

Former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif, who enjoyed two five-year terms at the helm, used Rs 8.73 billion of the taxpayers’ money, while former premiers Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Yousaf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf utilised Rs 350 million, Rs 240 million and Rs 320 million, respectively, from the national kitty. Former president Mamnoon Hussain also spent Rs 300 million.

Briefing the media on the cabinet meeting, Federal Minister for Communications Murad Saeed said Prime Minister Imran Khan bears all expenses of his Bani Gala residence, located in the suburbs of the federal capital, without declaring it his camp office. “[Even the] road leading to Bani Gala was built with his (PM’s) own money,” he added.

Similarly, Saeed said, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar did not have any camp office. “In fact, none of the ministers have any camp offices,” he added.

According to the State Bank of Pakistan’s statistics, the minister said, Sindh and southern Punjab were the most poverty-stricken areas in the country. “The availability of clean drinking water is an issue most prominent in Sindh and Punjab. Data from State Bank of Pakistan and Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) shows that Sindh is the most poverty-stricken province followed by southern Punjab,” he said, as he set the stage to provide the contrast which followed. Almost 500 children die of malnutrition in Thar every year, he added, quoting a report submitted in the Supreme Court. “On one hand, children are dying of hunger while on the other former president Zardari kept 164 vehicles for his personal security,” Saeed remarked. He said Gilani had three camp offices in Lahore and two in Multan, while Shehbaz also made five camp offices during his tenure.

Total expenditure of Nawaz’s visit to United States in 2015 was $400,000, said Murad Saeed, adding that the three-time prime minister used the special chartered aircraft 556 times while he was the head of the state.

“Imran Khan talks about Pakistan and Pakistanis when he visits Qatar and they (Sharifs) used to get Qatari letter when they visited the Gulf country.” He also said the security expenditure of the Punjab chief minister had been reduced by 86 percent and travel expenses by 60 percent after Usman Buzdar took charge of the office last year.

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