ISLAMABAD: The Cabinet’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) is scheduled to sanction additional security spending grants on Monday (today) and provide the go-ahead for the ‘voluntary separation’ of around 3,500 Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) employees.
An ECC meeting was held on Monday to take up a 10-point agenda, half of which were proposals for security-related spending grants. The meeting will be headed by the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance and Revenue, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.
Aware sources told Dawn that within the second quarter of the current fiscal year the criteria for supplemental grants for defence expenses had begun to arise.
Officials suggested that the Ministry of Defence had recommended that the Pakistan Army be given a technical supplementary grant for the internal security duty allocation. The Ministry’s further overview seeks’ additional allocation ‘of technical supplementary grants for the second phase of the Pakistan-Iran border fence during the current fiscal year.
Decision on ‘voluntary separation’ of 3,500 PIA employees likely
Another proposal for the allocation of a technical supplementary grant to the Special Protection Division (North) of the Pakistan Army for ongoing costs will also have to be accepted at the ECC conference. A few days earlier, the Special Protection Division (South) was allowed a similar supplementary grant of Rs16.6bn. For the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor initiative, these special divisions were raised a few years ago for special defence.
The fourth such application involves the allocation of funds to the Ministry of Defense as a supplementary technical grant in the form of logistical assistance for the repair of Cessna aircraft.
A summary of spending for payment has been transferred by the Ministry of Interior to employ solicitors in the United Kingdom to prosecute cases.
Another budgetary allocation was forwarded to the ECC for the procurement of ICT facilities by the Prime Minister’s Office for the Kamyab Jawan PM Programme.
At such an early stage of the fiscal process, the flow of demands for additional grants places a question mark on the credibility of the exercise of the government’s budget making and usually results in missed budget goals and higher than the committed fiscal deficit, thus the need for excessive borrowing and debt servicing costs.
The ECC would also propose the creation of a Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications Committee on Local Production of SIM Cards and Smart Cards.
Another Committee for the Export of Mangos and Information is also required to constitute the ECC.
Natural gas from Pakistan Petroleum Limited’s Bashar-X Field to a third party is also required to be allocated.
The meeting is also likely to accept the federal government’s cash support required by the PIA Company Limited for a voluntary separation scheme (VSS). The scheme will then go to the federal cabinet for endorsement before introduction.
According to an official, the financial expense of the VSS for PIA workers has been estimated at about Rs10 billion. The proposal was drawn up on the advice of the PM’s advisor on structural reforms and austerity, Dr Ishrat Hussain, he said.