The Federal Cabinet has reportedly discussed “financial impact” of curtailment in ministers” foreign visits for one year subject to cost benefit analysis, well informed sources in Finance Division told Business Recorder. Giving the background, the sources said, on September 5, 2018 with reference to recovery of discretionary funds in Ministries/ Divisions, the federal cabinet decided that Finance Division may process the case for abolishment of budgetary allocation regarding gifts and entertainment amounting to Rs 516 million for 2018-19 already approved by the Parliament.
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The Finance Division had moved a summary for the Cabinet on February 13, 2019 to seek clarification as to the spirit of the decision and proposed certain amendments therein to prohibit discretionary expensive gifts and lavish meals but to exempt the following: (i) events such as National Day/ Defence Day celebrations, such as 23rd March 14th August and 6th September etc, both within Pakistan and by Pakistani Missions abroad;(ii) meeting, workshops, seminars etc, which are attended by foreign dignitaries and delegations and ;(iii) serving of simple refreshment during official meetings within the budgetary allocation.
The federal cabinet considered the summary in its meeting held on February 14, 2019 and approved the proposal of Finance Division with the condition that expenditure under this head of account shall not exceed 25 per cent of the allocation approved by the Parliament for the FY 2018-19.
According to sources, the cabinet decision had been examined in Finance Division. An expenditure of Rs 132 million has been incurred under this head up to January 31, 2019 against the budget allocation of Rs 516 million approved by the Parliament for the FY 2018-19 – or 25 per cent hence, the limit fixed by the Cabinet has already been exhausted. On March, 19, 2019, Finance Division, sources said, proposed that the Cabinet may review its decision by allowing utilization of funds under the head “entertainments and gifts” up to a limit not exceeding 50 per cent of the allocation approved by the Parliament for the FY 2018-19 so as to enable the concerned Ministries/ Divisions to manage the official business for the remaining period of current financial year.
During the discussion in Federal Cabinet”s meeting, possibility of curtailing other expenses like TA/DA were also discussed in addition to curtailment of foreign visits of all members of the Cabinet for one year subject to cost benefit analysis of the trip if it was unavoidable in critical context.
However, the cabinet allowed Finance Division to withdraw its summary about abolishment of budgetary allocations under the head” entertainments and gifts”.
(This news/article originally appeared in Business Recorder on March 25th, 2019)