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An academic, a researcher and writer.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Dear Mian Sahib - Dr Farrukh Saleem


Sir, some fifteen million Pakistanis voted the best man back to power. Congratulations. Sir, are you now prepared to commit to three things: austerity, a Public Sector Enterprises Selection Board and fiscal consolidation? Sir, are you prepared to wash your hands of the Rs27 billion prime minister’s discretionary fund (and the chief minister’s discretionary fund especially in Punjab)?
Sir, are you prepared to end the multi-billion rupee Ministry of Information secret fund? Sir, then there are the two major propaganda tools – Rs5 billion for Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation and Rs4 billion for Pakistan Television. What should their future be? Sir, that’s a hefty Rs40 billion right there.
Sir, the cabinet division is spending Rs8 million per day, every day of the year. The Prime Minister’s Secretariat is spending Rs2 million a day, every day of the year. The presidency is spending Rs1.3 million a day, every day of the year. Sir, the budgetary allocation for the prime minister’s foreign trips amounts to a whopping Rs5 million a day, every day of the year. That’s a total of Rs6 billion right there. Sir, can you commit to slash all of these expenditures down to their bones?
Sir, our public sector enterprises (PSEs) are falling like ninepins. Pakistan Railways, Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan Steel Mills, Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco), Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (Passco) and the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) collectively end up loosing Rs360 billion a year – Rs100 crore a day, every day of the year.
Sir, the MD of PIA is managing to lose Rs7 crore a day, every day of the year. Pakistan Railways is managing to lose Rs5 crore a day, every day of the year. PIA’s half yearly report titled ‘Flying towards a prosperous future’ reports that liabilities went up from Rs62 billion in 2005 to Rs200 billion in 2009. PIA’s annual report titled ‘We stand for national values’ reports that net losses at the PIA have gone up from Rs4.4 billion in 2005 to Rs35 billion in 2008. At Pakistan Railways, the overdraft now stands at a tall Rs48 billion.
Sir, are your ready to dilute the prime minister’s authority to appoint the heads of the falling ninepins? Sir, are you prepared to commit to abide by the guiding principles of the UK commissioner for public appointments? Sir, are you ready to commit to just three principles of ‘merit, fairness and openness’?
Sir, do you commit to undertake fiscal consolidation? The PML-N would have to come up with specific policy instruments and specific structural spending and revenue reforms. The PML-N would have to formulate specific policy measures within our tough economic environment and a challenging setup of patronage politics. The PML-N would have to stabilise debt and to succeed the PML-N would need multiple instruments of consolidation.
Sir, are you ready to commit to the Nolan Committee’s seven principles of public life for all ministerial appointments? These principles are: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.
Sir, are you ready to commit to end billion rupee dole-outs to Senators, MNAs and MPAs all in the name of ‘development funds’? Sir, are you ready to commit to the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitations Law of 2005?
Dear Mian Sahib, unless “commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes...but no plans.”


Dear Mian Sahib - Dr Farrukh Saleem