Pak ministers unhappy over government's austere measures

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Islamabad, Sep 21 (ANI): Pakistani ministers have criticised the government's decision to restrict their foreign tours in the name of austerity, terming the new policy "ambiguous, self-contradictory and stringent," demanding flexibility and clarity in it.

The Cabinet Division had announced the bar on foreign travel in view of financial constraints and to observe austerity in line with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani's directions.

Sources said that federal and state ministers protested the Cabinet Division's instructions during a recent meeting.

They said the ministers had claimed the policy was unfair as it barred them from availing any foreign government or international agency's offer of airfare or per diem for foreign tours, while similar restrictions have not been imposed on federal secretaries and other government officials.

The ministers said such restrictions were unjustified and demanded their abolition, adding Pakistan - despite being a member of various UN agencies - was not being represented at several ministerial-level fora due to these self-imposed restrictions.

Sources said the ministers had also complained of an "anomaly" in the government's policy, noting that federal and state ministers, secretaries, additional secretaries and secretaries-incharge travelled within the country using economy-plus class air services, while chairmen and executives of public organisations working under the ministers and secretaries used club or first class for domestic air travel.

The ministers said this situation was embarrassing for them and should be corrected; the Daily Times quoted sources, as saying. (ANI)

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