While canvassing for the election, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman, Imran Khan, had promised a 50 percent reduction in government expenditures but unfortunately, it is the PTI that has the biggest provincial cabinet.
During the 2013 election campaign, the PTI had vowed to introduce several measures, including a 50% reduction in government expenditures. However, the PTI has the biggest provincial cabinet, which tends to multiply government expenses, thus doing the exact opposite of what they promised.
The induction of 15 lawmakers as advisors, special assistants and parliamentary secretaries, who continue to get perks and privileges of a minister despite the fact that the party had promised to form a short cabinet.
In an attempt to track the status of the promise, Truth Tracker approached Arif Yousaf, Special Assistant to Chief Minister on Law, who talked about PTI’s promised cut in government expenditure: “According to my perception and knowledge, the government expenditures have been reduced to even less than 50 percent.”
He said that most of the officials’ security had been withdrawn and official guesthouses were closed down to cut down the expenditures.
“In addition to all that, the culture of serving tea and green tea in government offices has ceased to exist and now ministers are bound to offer tea and other refreshments from their own pocket,” Yousaf noted.
“Similarly, there has been a visible reduction in official protocol and now I have one security guard after surrendering three guards,” he added. He said that the effect of the reduction in expenses would be felt with the passage of time because the outcome of any change takes time.
Yousaf went on to say that efforts are being made to curtail and stop unnecessary expenditures in an apparent attempt to divert resources to other sectors of public interest.
“All possible measures,” he said, “are being employed to put all sectors on the right track for a better tomorrow.”
When asked whether the PTI-led government in KP has brought a 50% reduction in government expenditure, Zahid Khan, spokesman of Awami National Party (ANP), questioned, “County you tell me about a single promise that the PTI chairman has managed to materialise?”
He said that the PTI has been claiming big, positive changes in the health and education sectors of KP. “Tell me about single university or college being built during the PTI tenure in the province,” he inquired.
“Since assuming office in KP, the PTI has been talking of ushering an era of change but judging by their progress so far, what kind of change has the PTI has brought?” he remarked.
He suggested the nation should refrain from taking Khan’s promises seriously, because he is more of a cricketer than a politician. “Talking about change and development is an easy task but materializing your promises is always a challenging job,” he noted.
“Corruption in KP is at its peak, and the leveling of embezzlement allegations by PTI Members Provincial Assembly (MPAs) against each other is ample proof of that,” he remarked.
When contacted for comment on whether the KP government expenditures have been reduced, Malik Riaz, a lawmaker from Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam- Fazl (JUI-F), said: “According to my perception and understanding, the PTI government expenditures have increased manifold instead.”
He said that there is a wide gap between the promises made by the PTI and the ground realities. “They (PTI) are saying one thing and doing another,” he observed. He said that politicians can no longer play with the sentiments of the voters, as people have become politically mature.
Sardar Aurangzeb, a lawmaker from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said that Khan’s promise of reduction in government expenditure is nothing more than white lies.
“Khan had promised to turn KP Chief Minister’s house into a university, which did not happen,” he recalled. In addition to that, the PTI leader had said that they would not use helicopters but now, even the Chief Minister travels in a helicopter.
“The people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have lost confidence in PTI to resolve their problems,” he remarked. “The Chief Minister uses the helicopter like a van,” Aurangzeb added.
He said it is extremely difficult, even impossible for the PTI to restore the lost confidence of KP voters in the next ballot.
When contacted for comments on the PTI’s promise of cutting down on government expenditures, Riaz Khan, an independent analyst and senior journalist, told Truth Tracker that the PTI government in KP had promised to convert the chief minister and governor houses into universities but the situation seems unchanged and the status quo within the system persists.
“Indubitably, the masses of the province cast their votes in favour of the PTI in order to bring about durable and positive change for a bright future, but things continued to deteriorate even further over the past couple of years,” he observed.
“Secondly, the PTI had said that are actively vigilant with the revenue department regarding corruption by Patwaris (local area officials collecting revenue),” he said.
“In previous governments people used to offer Rs. 1,000 to Patwaris to clear their legitimate issue but now the same could be done by offering Rs. 7,000 to 8,000. Now, the issue is that the same Patwaris do not refuse to resolve the complainant’s issue but they resort to delaying tactics in order to get bribed,” he added.
People had opted to vote for PTI because they had taken the party as the best available option over PML-N and PPP, but what kind of democracy is PTI promoting when Imran Khan fired his party election commissioner Justice (Retd) Wajihuddin, who wrote a contradictory note.
“A one-man show does not signify democracy,” he reiterated. However, he said that people continue to have high hopes from Imran Khan because of the fact that he is the ‘crowd pooling personality.’
“But what really matters is how he (Imran Khan) is materializing his promises, and I don’t think he can do it effectively because he has the same people in his party that have been affiliated with other political parties in the past,” he added.
After getting the views and observations of ruling, opposition lawmakers and independent analysts, Truth Tracker rules that the PTI has broken yet another promise of a 50% cut in government expenditures.