'Roll up your sleeves': PM warns ministers against laxity in implementing downsizing agenda

PM Shehbaz urges cabinet members to "roll up sleeves as this is matter of country, its resources"

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addresses the federal cabinet on July 10, 2024. — PID
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addresses the federal cabinet on July 10, 2024. — PID 
  • PM asks ministers to work hard for revolution in ministries.
  • Says wants massive fiscal space in next 3 months.
  • To make it last IMF deal, we need sacrifices, PM tells ministers.

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Wednesday asked the ministries to work hard to make a difference and meet the nation’s expectations, warning against any laxity in the implementation of the government’s downsizing agenda.

“I will not allow my time to waste and I am sure you will not allow your time to be wasted. The only thing that will make the difference is action and implementation. Roll up your sleeves as this is a matter of country, its resources and resolution of its issues,” the prime minister said in his remarks while chairing the meeting of the federal cabinet.

Apprising the members of his visits to Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, he referred to his interactions with world leaders, particularly Russian President Vladimir Putin and said he had formed a committee under Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal for follow-ups.

Similarly, he said he had chaired a meeting a couple of days ago to review the progress on the follow-up of “very productive” discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang during his China visit and would hold another meeting on July 20.

The prime minister said the government had launched the solarisation of 28,000 tube-wells in Balochistan to save bleeding of annual Rs80 billion. He also appreciated the Balochistan chief minister and other relevant ministries and departments for taking the project to the implementation stage.

He told the meeting that the finance ministry had been tasked to work out a business plan for the solarisation of a million tube-wells in the country which were currently running on imported fuel, putting a burden of $3.5 billion in the form of foreign exchange.

The prime minister highlighted that Pakistan had immense solar energy potential which must be exploited to save energy costs and provide low-cost electricity to the farmers.

“Time is running fast and we are racing against time. You have to accept the challenge and deliver. You will become the nation’s heroes … if you bring about a revolution of development in your ministries. For this, we will have to work day and night,” he remarked.

Coming to the downsizing agenda, the prime minister categorically said that he would not listen against the closure of Public Works Department (PWD) as the government had also found an alternative solution on the pattern of Punjab. He said the two-week time he had given for PWD’s closure, was already over.

“I will not tolerate if any ministry used delaying tactics. Please make no mistake about it. It is okay if there is any valid reason for any subsidiary but protecting any entity for the sake of perks and privileges is a thing of the past, not today. It will not happen and it must not happen,” he remarked.

The prime minister also highlighted that Pakistan spends $5 billion on freight of exports and imports but the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation was running a fleet of just 12 ships while getting Rs5 billion for salaries. This is contrary to around 600 ships being run by Bangladesh and around 1500 ships by India.

“But no one cares. At least they should have flagged the issues to seek their resolution,” he said and also referred to the evasion of import duties worth Rs1200 billion on Karachi Port.

He told the meeting that on Tuesday, the government had announced a Rs50 billion relief package to support the power consumers of the protected category for three months. “During these three months, I want massive fiscal space through enforcement like plugging financial leakages and addressing tax evasion,” he added.

He said the government had imposed taxes on the real estate sector to generate Rs100 billion in revenue and to do away with a culture of tax evasion.

“This cannot go for long. We need to bring deep structural reforms and take bitter pills. I pray that this should be the last IMF programme but it needs sacrifices,” he commented.

He reiterated his call for the ministers to work hard and sought plans from commerce and IT ministers to boost exports.

“I beg of you in the name of Pakistan. Let us stand up and accept the challenge, move forward in unison and create a difference as the nation wants results,” he added.

Prime Minister Shehbaz asked the interior minister and interior secretary to ensure coordination with the provinces during the month of Muharram and extend the maximum possible support to provinces as well as Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.