News Desk |
In the run-up to occupying the Prime Minister’s office and ever since PM Imran Khan promised drastic and visible austerity measures. It started out with limiting the confectionery and other food items served in government offices, curbing senior officials purchasing new cars for themselves and other seemingly rudimentary measures.
Governors were directed to not live in their opulent governor houses and the PM House was promised to be made a university. The PTI government hopes that the sum total of these small changes will result in big savings for the national exchequer.
The PTI government hopes that the sum total of these small changes will result in big savings for the national exchequer.
PM Khan special assistant on Information, Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, earlier informed the media that the PM House only used Rs.750m out of the Rs.1.10 billion that were allotted for the PM House by the last government’s budget. Now, in another instance of personal austerity, the PM has deviated from years of protocol to fly on a commercial Qatar Airways flight rather than a chartered flight and saved Rs.100m of public funds.
— Moeed Pirzada (@MoeedNj) July 21, 2019
Most Prime Ministers until now employed a massive Boeing 777 airplane for their entourages in overseas trips of such importance. A twin-engine airplane with a capacity of 300 seats, the plane would cost the Pakistani treasury Rs.4.45m an hour. A source in the PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) said that “If we calculate, it becomes Rs112-126 million for a 28-hour round trip.
The PM’s special assistant on Information, Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, earlier informed the media that the PM House only used Rs.750m.
This equation does not include other arrangements made by the national flag carrier, the PIA and other government institutions.” The plane’s internal décor was tailored to the specifications of the PM at the time to accommodate several luxuries such as meeting rooms, lounges and sleeping areas.
This often meant completely dismantling and rearranging the inner features of the plane. Specific food menus also had to be put together and arranged for by the PIA. The entire operation would cost millions and take days to arrange.
Even before switching to a commercial flight, Khan did not use the 777s for his visits abroad, instead opting for a smaller Gulfstream jet under the management of the Pakistan Airforce. The Pakistani government owns two such jets for the use of the PM and the President. They are surely better options than the 777s given their relative size and fuel consumption.
Most Prime Ministers until now employed a massive Boeing 777 airplane for their entourages in overseas trips of such importance.
The rupee has depreciated by around 32% in 2019 and jet fuel costs have increased by 25% according to statistics. As one can imagine, the cost of using these planes has also seen a significant surge. The PM using commercial airliners on his many foreign trips and other austerity can add up to significant amounts of money saved for Pakistan, but more importantly, serve the role of perpetuating a positive image of PM Imran Khan.
A PM whose lifestyle is in tandem with the austerity measures he has brought upon his people with the IMF deal is crucial for Pakistanis to understand that they are in the midst of excruciating but necessary reforms. To have a leader who is enacting restrictions on himself and accompanying the common man on this journey of economic hardship has much more value than a simple political gimmick.
It will allow common Pakistanis to relate to their leader in some way and see him as a legitimately concerned stakeholder in the economic fate of the country as he lets his lifestyle be affected by it. It is a significant change from the regal attitudes of past premiers, and that has value in and of itself in a country with socio-economic disparities as deep as Pakistan’s.