The federal cabinet on Tuesday decided to constitute “threat committees” in provinces and territories where the PTI is in power to cut down on the “excessive spending” on security protocols of “important personalities”.
Briefing the media about the cabinet decisions, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said the prime minister had raised a vital point during the cabinet meeting that the public should be taken into confidence about where their tax money is being spent.
He said the prospective threat assessment committees – to be formed in ICT, KP, Punjab, Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK – will individually examine threats and security will be arranged accordingly. “This move will help us save millions of rupees,” he added.
Giving a breakdown of the expenditure on “excessive protocols and security duties”, the minister explained the federal cabinet was on the top with minimum spending on it, while the major quantum of the amount was being spent on the judiciary for security purposes.
He said the federal capital police had deployed 762 police personnel for security of the president, the prime minister, ministers, advisers and special assistants while 14 Rangers and FC personnel were also on duty for the purpose.
He informed that a total of Rs700 million were being spent under the aforementioned head. On the contrary, he said 373 police personnel were deployed for security of judges in Islamabad with spending of Rs287m. “Similarly, in Lahore Rs1,137m are being spent on the security of judges”.
He said that cumulatively, around Rs1,400m were being spent, adding that if other provinces were incorporated, the total amount may exceed above Rs1,700m.
The minister highlighted that the Punjab Police expenses amounted to Rs446m. Likewise, Rs300m were being spent on our former government servants including ex-premiers and presidents. He said at least 106 police officials, four Rangers personnel and 47 FC men were being used for the security of retired officials with a spending of Rs10.97mn from national exchequer.
He said the attorney general and the law minister will also speak to judiciary on the matter because security of judges was also paramount to the government.
Ease of doing business
During the presser, the information minister underlined that the government had also decided that the Investment Board will be empowered to do away with outdated laws and take substantive measures for ease of doing business.
The strategy formulation for new framework of MoUs on foreign investment has been approved, he said, adding that Pakistan recently suffered a huge financial setback in the Reko Diq case and the minister blamed former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry for his “role” that inflicted a huge loss to the country.
He said the cabinet also asked the CDA to implement court orders in land-related cases, adding that a committee had also been formed to review matters in this regard.
“When Islamabad was developing, the government had acquired villages and provided compensation to its owners in the 70s and beyond. But some influential people exploited the rights of people and now the Islamabad High Court has ordered to process this case transparently, which is welcoming,” said Chaudhry.
Pakistan’s “first” Cyber Security Policy
The minister informed that the cabinet also approved country’s first National Cyber Security Policy. “Recently we saw Pegasus malware and now the world is heading towards cyber wars. In that connection, the IT ministry has given its first policy for our data protection. The policy has two areas — cyber security and cyber offences,” he added.
He also said the government had paid dues to media houses but some institutions were still not paying their employees.
Advertisements for digital media
Chaudhry said the government would now also sanction advertisements to the digital media. “I had written a letter to the Finance Ministry in 2018, informing them that Rs3-4 billion was being spent on digital ads at the time, which has now increased to Rs25 billion”.
He said the cabinet had also approved spectrum auction for next generation mobile services in the country.