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Tuesday January 31, 2023

15-member panel to suggest austerity steps

PM Shehbaz constituted the National Austerity Committee to review and rationalise the size of government in order to achieve optimal and smart organisational structures, including a review of SOEs (state owned enterprises) and corporations having redundant or overlapping functions

By Our Correspondent
January 21, 2023
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif photographed on December 1, 2022. PID
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif photographed on December 1, 2022. PID  

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Friday constituted the National Austerity Committee to review and rationalise the size of government in order to achieve optimal and smart organisational structures, including a review of SOEs (state owned enterprises) and corporations having redundant or overlapping functions.

This 15-member committee, led by Chairman Nasir Mahmood Khosa, a former bureaucrat, will finalise recommendations about five major terms of reference (ToRs) to ensure austerity at the government level.

A notification issued by the Finance Division stated that to conserve resources and to take austerity measures for rational utilisation of the public money besides curtailing expenditure to reduce fiscal deficit, the prime minister was pleased to constitute a National Austerity Committee with effect from 13.1.2023.

Nasir Mahmood Khosa (ex-civil servant) will serve as the convener of the committee, while Minister of State for Finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha will be Co-Convener.

The other members of the National Austerity Committee include SAPM on government effectiveness, SAPM on finance, adviser to the PM on establishment, secretary Cabinet Division, secretary finance, secretary Power Division, secretary Housing & Works, chairman CDA, chief secretaries (Punjab, Sindh, KPK, Balochistan), renowned economist Dr. Kaiser Bengali, economist/analyst Dr. Farrukh Saleem, economist/ consultant Dr. M. Zubair Khan and governance specialist Muhammad Naveed Iftikhar.

The committee may co-opt any person from public/private sector, if deemed necessary.

The committee TORs are to reduce public expenditure and ensure fiscal discipline, to take measures to economise government operations, to review and rationalise size of the government to achieve optimal and smart organizational structures, including review of SOEs and corporations having redundant or overlapping functions, to invite proposals from ministries/divisions regarding austerity measures including curtailment of expenditure and any other issue that is relevant or incidental to the achievement of austerity in government operations.

The committee shall submit its recommendations within 15 days for consideration of the prime minster. The Finance Division will provide secretarial support to the committee.

Independent analysts argue that such committees will prove to be a futile exercise, as the country was under the IMF program and its condition of enforcing fiscal prudence remained an unfulfilled task.

The relevant question to ask is that what happened in case of such other committees or commissions. Earlier, the government had constituted a Pay and Pension Committee but so far nothing substantial has come out.

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