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February 13, 2019

If debts by previous govts weren’t this high...:‘I would have offered free Hajj’

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February 13, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said the government was compelled to increase the gas prices as the industry suffered immense losses and there was unchecked theft.

The premier rejected the opposition's criticism about the increase in the gas prices by reminding that the crisis was caused during their tenures. He said the opposition members, who are now objecting over the gas crisis, must be ashamed of themselves. He said the gas companies would've gone under if the prices weren't raised.

The prime minister was addressing a ceremony after inaugurating the Railway Live Tracking System and new train service Thal Express here at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

Imran Khan said that the ongoing accountability drive will rid the nation of corruption. He criticised the previous governments for burying Pakistan under debt, saying that the government would send pilgrims for Haj free of cost had the previous rulers not created such a situation. He said he wanted to send Pakistanis for Haj free of cost but the soaring debt crisis had tightened the government’s hands. He said the country was going through difficult times while paying Rs6 billion in daily interest on the debt that the previous governments had accumulated.

Imran Khan said that the expenditures in the Prime Minister's House have been slashed by 30 percent. He said lavish dinners used to be hosted and Nihari was served in the PM House, but now a drastic change has been brought and a cup of tea with biscuits are served there.

He revealed that he has directed all ministries to cut costs. “If I can cut costs by 30 percent, other ministries should reduce their outlay at least 10 percent considering the money being spent belongs to the poor people." Imran Khan said that officers should realise their responsibilities as it is not their personal wealth but it belongs to the poor people of Pakistan. He reiterated his government's resolve to devise people-friendly policies on priority basis to take the masses out of poverty.

The prime minister stressed that in New Pakistan, the government’s priorities were to take the people out of poverty by devising people-friendly policies.

“The PTI government is implementing its agenda for the welfare of the common man,” the premier said. He said uplift of the trains system of Pakistan Railways will be taken with the cooperation of China. He said China is far ahead of other countries in development of train systems and like other areas, we will also seek their cooperation in the railways sector to make Pakistan Railways modern and customer friendly passenger service. He said work on the Main Line-1 project will be expedited.

Imran Khan said that in previous governments, policies were designed to benefit the elite class only. He said the loot and plundering of wealth in the past harmed the national economy. He said due to NROs, the fear of accountability had vanished. corruption and impunity from accountability. He said that foreign investment is coming to Pakistan and the future is bright for the country.

Earlier, Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said that Thal Express will connect Rawalpindi to Multan. He said that two VIP trains called Jinnah and Sir Syed will be run from next month. The minister said 20 more trains will be launched this year. He said the number of freight trains has been increased to 14 which will be further increased and its number will reach 20 within this year.

Sheikh Rashid said that in order to reduce expenditures of Pakistan Railways, the schools and colleges run by it as well as its hospitals will be privatised. He said the vigilance cell in Pakistan Railways has been abolished.

The minister said 365 acres of land has been acquired in Gwadar from Balochistan government for railway division. Meanwhile, the premier directed the state-run gas companies i.e. SSGC and SNGPL to initiate crackdown against the gas theft and take stern action against them, as the country is losing around Rs50 billion due to gas theft every year. He said the gas sector also bears the burden of Rs157 billion debt.

The premier directed that for controlling unaccounted for Gas (UFG) which also includes theft, no leniency should be shown. Regarding recent inflated gas bills, the premier was given detailed briefing.

Earlier, in a message on the social media, Imran Khan said the country’s economic stabilisation measures had begun showing positive results. “Our economic stabilisation measures now showing positive results with exports rising & imports falling for Jan 2019 compared to Jan 2018 leading to a $1 bn reduction in trade deficit,” he stated.

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