Lahore : Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Thursday said the federal cabinet had decided to continue with austerity drive, hold audit of three metro bus projects and provide subsidy to farmers in urea fertilizer.
Informing media about the decisions of the cabinet, the minister rejected the reports about increase in gas and power tariffs as well as any increase in income tax on the salaried class. “We see headlines in newspapers about these issues but I would suggest that media should report facts and correct information.”
“The cabinet has decided to import 100,000 tonnes urea and provide ample quantity of gas to local plants to meet farmers’ requirements. The government would import urea at Rs 2550 per bag and provide to farmers at Rs 1650 per bag giving them a subsidy of Rs three to four billion,” he added.
He said Lahore Metro Bus project was completed at a cost of Rs 30 billion. However, the cost of additional bridges was not included in the stated amount. “As per calculations Lahore metro bus earns Rs 917 million annually and the Punjab government has to pay Rs 4.2 billion subsidy every year to run this project.”
Similarly, the minister said that Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro bus was completed at a cost of Rs 45 billion. This service earns just Rs 660 million and the Punjab government pays Rs two billion subsidy annually to run that project.
In case of Multan metro, he said, its construction cost was Rs 29 billion while this project earned just Rs 54 million while Punjab government had to pay Rs 2.1 billion subsidy annually to run this project.
“In a country where people are crying for clean drinking water and health and education facilities, we are paying Rs 8 billion subsidy just to run three metro bus projects. Therefore, the cabinet has decided to hold audit of these projects,” the minister stated.
About Peshawar metro bus he said the project’s estimated cost was Rs 67 billion out of which Rs 41 billion have been spent so far. However, he said that there was no plan to pay subsidy to run this project as its buses have been purchased at a cost of Rs 2 billion, whereas in Punjab buses have been taken on rent.
Chaudhry Fawad said that Orange Line Metro Train project would cost about Rs 250 billion to make the trains run, while about 3.5 billion estimated subsidy will have to be given annually.
He pointed out that the entire rail track from Peshawar to Karachi could have been doubled, if Rs 250 billion were spent on it.
He said that the cabinet also gave approval to new Board of Governors of Pakistan Television Corporation with the Information Minister its chairman. It would have eight members, he added.
The cabinet also gave approval to appointment of Haroon Sharif as Chairman Board of Investment.
The minister said he had written a letter to Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) and All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) to ensure payment of salaries to employees asking them to suggest as to how the government could help them. “It is our duty to stand by the weak and deserving communities.”
He said the members of the PTV Board of Governors’ are volunteers and no position in BoG was paid while Ahmed Malik and Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar had been included in editorial board of Pakistan Television (PTV).