ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday in his first Address to Nation suggested reforms to wipe out what he said was extravagant lifestyle in Pakistan.
In a highly anticipated address to the nation, Imran lamented Pakistan’s economic woes, saying the debt had soared to a staggering Rs28,000 billion.
“We have a scenario where more than half of the country cannot afford two-time meal. The country’s debt has reached an alarming level. We are heading towards destruction,” he added.
The prime minister referred to a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report and said Pakistan was included in top five countries with a worsening human development index.
“Our children are malnourished; stunted growth does not even allow their brains to develop properly. This is the case of 45 per cent of the children of Pakistan,” he added.
Imran also called on the public to pay taxes, vowing to protect public’s money. “Only eight lac people pay tax out of a population of more than 200 million. We have a great system of Zakat to follow that can be linked to progressive taxation where people pay according to their ability to pay.
“I assure you…. pay taxes and we will protect your money. We will ensure that the money collected through taxes is used for the welfare of our citizens.”
The prime minister also announced to repurpose the Prime Minister’s House, saying he wanted to construct a university in order to facilitate research work.
“I ll start with myself. Out of the 524 personnel serving, I ll keep only two of them and only two cars, that too because of security reasons. I actually wanted to reside in Bani Gala to save all these expenses.”
Imran said his government would intitiate an anti-corruption drive and his government won t compromise on corruption. He added that a whistleblower act would be introduced to expose corrupt individuals.
“We will help NAB in every capacity and also bring an act like the whistleblower act that we brought in KP; whatever corruption they expose a certain percentage of recovery will be given to them as a reward.”
“When we start our drive against corruption, there will be a lot of noise made from all the corrupt individuals in every institution. They might lead protests too, but you have to stand with me. We have to beat them to save this nation.”
Empower local bodies
The prime minister said his government would introduce a local bodies system based on devolution of power. He added that the former government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had such a system.
“We want to replicate the system we introduced in KP. Nowhere in the world do MNAs or MPAs get funds.”
He said the government would make all-out efforts to promote the productivity among the youth, besides strengthening the country’s image in all fields.
Special task force
Imran also announced setting up of a special task force to bring back the looted money stashed abroad. He said annually ten billion dollars go out of the country and this will have to be stopped.
He said reforms in FBR would be one of his prioirities. He appealed to the people to pay taxes for the sake of the country and ameliorating the lot of the poor.
Imran said a consultative council has been established to suggest measures for increase in exports. He said steps would be taken for attracting investment and promoting SMEs.
He also expressed his resolve to encourage overseas Pakistanis so that they remit money through official banking channels. He said Pakistani missions abroad will also have to play their role in this regard.
The prime minister said he would hold a meeting with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman to discuss ways and means to address the meance of corruption effectively. He said the possibility of further empowerment of bureau will also be explored.
Imran Khan said he would keep the pnterior ministry with him to keep an effective check on money laundering. He asked people to support him in his campaign to hold the corrupt accountable.
He said he would also hold a meeting with Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar for reformation of the system of dispensation of justice. He said trial of cases should not go beyond one year.
He referred to police reforms in KP during the last five years and said former police officer Nasir Durrani would be assigned a consultative role in Punjab to help reform the police.
The prime minister also announced plans for reforms in civil service to restore its past glory. He said there would be no political interference in the working of the civil service but the civil servants will have to deliver.
Imran Khan was sworn-in as prime minister of Pakistan on Saturday, taking on the challenge of forming a coalition to govern as a currency crisis looms over the turbulent, nuclear-armed South Asian country.
The oath-taking was attended by scores of Pakistani celebrities, sportsmen, and politicians, as well as former Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu, who serves as tourism minister for India’s Punjab province.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) won the national election last month promising to fight corruption and drastically reduce poverty among Pakistan’s 208 million mostly-Muslim people.