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Ministry of Finance to probe loans taken during past 10 years

12 October, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday directed the Ministry of Finance to hold a thorough probe into the loans taken by the government during the past 10 years and their utilization.

“A committee, like the parliamentary panel on alleged rigging in the general election, is needed to investigate the past 10 years period and find out the reasons behind the present economic crisis and name the persons responsible for it so that they should be brought to book,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told reporters at a briefing following the cabinet meeting. “I will soon submit a resolution in the National Assembly for constitution of a parliamentary panel to investigate the causes of present economic crisis and pinpoint the accused,” he added.

The minister said that the cabinet discussed modalities of the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme. He said that the land given by the government would be used as collateral by the banks which would issue loans to those persons who were allotted the land. He said the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme would bring about significant improvement in the country’s economy as an investment of Rs 180 billion would be made in the scheme. He said the Naya Pakistan Housing Authority would start working within two months and it would decide on the interest rate, which would be on the lower side.

Fawad said the cabinet had approved the appointment of Air Marshal Arshad Mahmood Malik as chairman of the PIA to control the rot, as the institution was suffering a loss of Rs 70 to 80 million on daily basis. He said the PIA was facing a Rs 406 billion debt, adding that the new chairman had been directed by the government to immediately fix the institution’s worsening economic condition.

The minister said the process for appointment of a new chief executive officer has been started which would take some time, adding that during that period, the PIA could not be left rudderless. He said that PIA’s restructuring plan had been given to the Finance Ministry which would get its approval from the cabinet.

Fawad said the cabinet had decided to hold a thorough audit of the New Islamabad International Airport project, which was supposed to be completed with an amount of Rs 38 billion but its cost escalated to over Rs100 billion. He said everybody knows who was given the contract of the airport. The cabinet asked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to bring the facts about that project before the nation as people were asking questions from the political leadership.

The information minister said measures were being taken to launch a crackdown on smuggling of mobile phones. By the year-end, smuggled phones would not be operational in the country, he said.

Fawad said the cabinet also discussed placing and removing certain names from the exit control list (ECL), adding that there were currently 3,000 names on the list. He said that Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi would look into the list.

The minister said the government would complete whatever project it undertakes, adding that details of the government’s 100-day plan could be accessed through its website. “Pakistan’s example is like a family whose house has been burgled and the thieves have escaped,” he said. “The nation will have to catch the thieves to recover the stolen money … but at the same time it has to get loans for running the government affairs,” he added.

He said National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser had issued production orders of Shehbaz Sharif on the request of the opposition.

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