Minister for Information and Broadcasting Attaullah Tarar has dispelled the impression that 500 billion rupees are being distributed among legislators in the name of development schemes.

He was addressing a news conference in Islamabad this evening.

Referring to former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and ex-finance minister Miftah Ismail’s claims and accusations, Attaullah Tarar said the total amount of Public Sector Development Programme is 1,500 billion rupees and made it clear that the government has no intention to give 500 billion rupees to members of the national and the provincial assemblies.   He said they have quoted an extremely exaggerated figure on the basis of misinformation.

The Minister further said the government is working on the agenda of introducing reforms to cut expenditure. He said department like Pakistan Public Works Department is being dissolved on the directions of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. He said a committee on down and right sizing has also been formed under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb. Besides, the government is actively pursuing privatization of State Owned Enterprises like the Pakistan International Air Lines. He expressed the hope that privatization of PIA will be completed next month.

Attaullah Tarar said Anti-Narcotics and Culture divisions are being merged into the interior and the information ministries respectively, which will significantly help save the national kitty.

He also highlighted that the Prime Minister and the entire cabinet are not drawing any salary or perks to reduce government expenditure, which is a brilliant example of austerity.

The Minister mentioned that digitization of the Federal Board of Revenue is underway to check loopholes and leakages in the FBR. He said the digitization process is being done by Karandaaz, funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with zero liability on the government of Pakistan.

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Attaullah Tarar said Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Miftah Ismail should have also commended these measures of the government to save funds.

Regarding tax measures, Attaullah Tarar said various measures have been taken to achieve tax target of the FBR. He, however, clarified that no tax has been imposed on solar panels, pensioners, charitable hospitals, fertilizers, pesticides and medical equipment.

The Minister said real estate has been taxed to put them within tax net and bring the money circulation on record.

Highlighting relief measures suggested in the budget, the Minister said minimum wages have been increased from 32,000 rupees to 37,000 rupees. He said this should also be applied on media workers. He added that media organizations have assured of is implementation.

With regard to the outcome of government policies, the Minister for Information and Broadcasting said trade deficit has been reduced, foreign exchange reserves surged to over nine billion dollars, while bullish trends in the stock exchange can be witnessed on daily basis. He said all these indicators show that the budget is a step towards economic stability.

About the demands for fresh polls from a few politicians, Attaullah Tarar said next general elections will be held as per the schedule in 2029. He said there is neither any need nor a justification for fresh elections.