ISLAMABAD – Imran Khan’s promise of staying away from the palatial Prime Minister House to implement the austerity drive has stirred multiple questions about the conduct of his predecessors in this regard.
Seasoned journalist Saleem Safi claimed in a TV show over the weekend that Nawaz Sharif bore the expenses of PM House from his own pocket, the cheques substantiating which were shown to incumbent premier Imran Khan as well.
However, a few of the pieces of evidence available online contradict the observation of the veteran journalist, confirming that the taxpayers of the country actually paid for the expenses of the PM House, instead of Nawaz Sharif himself.
- An official press release by the PM House issued in June 2016 – when Nawaz Sharif was the PM – implied that a total of Rs 22 million would be spent on the renovation of the bathrooms/ ablution places located in all the seven floors of the building; There was no mention that Nawaz Sharif would bear the cost.
- In the budget for the fiscal year 2016-17, the annual expenses of the Prime Minister’s Office were increased by five per cent, a formal announcement of which was made confirming that the state incurred the expense instead of then premier.
- The budget of the Prime Minister Office for the year 2014-15 was Rs779 million according to the official figures and surely the former premier did not pay it.
- Another vindication of taxpayers being the primary source for bearing the expenses of PM House is that in the 2015-16 budget, a sum of Rs881.6 million was earmarked for the PM Secretariat. The figure was Rs842 million for the financial year 2016-17.
- The official budget document said that Rs599 million had been allocated for employees-related expenses, Rs229 million for their salary, Rs110m for salary of officers, Rs370m for allowances, Rs125m for operating expenses, Rs75m for grants, subsidies and written-off loans. Had this amount paid by Nawaz Sharif, the budget of Pakistan would not have outlined the figures, for sure.
- The budget document for 2017-18 states that the government had allocated Rs917 million for the Prime Minister Office, all through the pockets of the public.
- Another testimony of the fact that the cash-strapped civilians paid for their former premier is the admission of former federal minister for parliamentary affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed, who told the National Assembly in 2016 that Rs 29.765m had been incurred on the flight that brought the prime minister back to the country after his heart treatment in London.
- Moreover, the Sharif duo designated their private residences as the official camp offices for years, in a bid to safeguard it, at the expense of the taxpayers.
- Interestingly, the former adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz had informed the Senate in 2015 that Nawaz Sharif’s 16 foreign visits between July 2013 and September 2014 cost the nation over Rs294 million.
The above-quoted figures – to mention a few – simply contradict that Nawaz Sharif paid for the expenses of the PM House, confirming that the citizens of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan actually bore the expenses, a reflection of which is in the budget for the successive years of Pakistan.
Interestingly, the information Minister Fawad Chaudhry explained on Monday that if Nawaz Sharif was willing to bear the expenses, the incumbent PTI government was ready to dispatch him the bills.
نوازشریف اگروزیراعظم ہاؤس کے4سال کےاخراجات دیناچاہتے ہیں توہم بل بھجوادیں گے،فواد چودھری
— Geo News Urdu (@geonews_urdu) August 20, 2018