Friday Nov 20 2020
Web Desk

Easy to destroy state institutions, difficult to strengthen them: Dr Ishrat Hussain

Web Desk
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain (L) and the Federal Minister for Information Shibli Faraz addressing a press conference at PID in Islamabad, on November 20, 2020. — PID

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain on Friday said that it is easy to weaken and destroy state institutions but it takes a lot of time and effort to strengthen them.

He was holding a joint press conference alongside the Federal Minister for Information Shibli Faraz to discuss the current situation of state institutions and areas where the government is planning to carry out restructuring. 

Prime Minister Imran Khan has recently ordered the establishment of a committee to restructure the institutions and suggest reforms. The committee will be headed by Dr Ishrat Hussain.

Sharing the government's plan, Dr Hussain said that PM Imran Khan has directed him to appoint institutional heads in a transparent and procedural manner.

"We have set up specific procedures and have appointed a committee to select the head of the organisations," Dr Hussain told journalists. "Earlier, the head of these institutions were appointed on the basis of vested interests, but the PM has abolished this trend and has decided to prioritise merit over everything else."

He said that making merit a priority is not an easy task as bringing about this type of change is a time-consuming process.

Speaking about the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Dr Hussain said that making the FBR stronger through improved tax collection will be immensely beneficial for the country. 

"The government has decided to run the tax system under a fully-automated system. Out of 2.5 million taxpayers, one million people neither declare their sources of income nor pay their taxes," he said.

He also spoke about restructuring Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Steel Mills, and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), among other institutions. 

"We have also decided to restructure the PIA. At present, it has 14,000 employees which will be reduced to 7,000. The company has been facing a lot of losses and an increase in debts, which is why we want to turn it into a profitable institution," Dr Hussain maintained.

Adding to the conversation, Shibli Faraz maintained that at present, the government is funding all existing institutions in the country, saying that restructuring might make the government unpopular, but the steps are being taken to improve these institutions. 

The information minister also touched upon the issue of coronavirus in the country and made an appeal to all political parties to demonstrate responsible behaviour.

"Many political parties are holding rallies across the country for personal gains. Coronavirus is a global reality, not a political issue," he said.