: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday directed the Ministry of Finance to hold a thorough probe into the loans taken by the former governments during the past ten years and their utilisation.

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry stated this while briefing the media about the decisions of the federal cabinet meeting, chaired by PM Khan.

He said Pakistan’s example was like a family whose house had been burgled and the thieves had escaped.

“The nation would have to catch the thieves to recover the stolen money, but at the same time it had to get loans for running government affairs,” Chaudhry said.

He said that Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser had issued production orders of Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif on the request of the opposition.

“The speaker had shown large heartedness as during remand period such orders are normally not issued,” the minister said, adding, “The parliament would get a chance to question Shehbaz regarding what he had done.”

He expressed surprise over the appearance of opposition members on television screens and criticising the present government, who according to him should have been responding to the allegations about ruining the economy of the country.

Chaudhry said he would soon submit a resolution in the National Assembly Secretariat for constitution of a parliamentary panel to investigate the causes of present economic crisis and pinpoint the ones responsible for it.

He said a committee, like the parliamentary panel on alleged rigging in the general election, was needed to investigate the past 10-year period and find out the reasons behind present economic crisis, name the persons responsible for it in order to bring them to book.

The minister said that the meeting also discussed modalities of the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme.

He disclosed that the land given by the government would be used as collateral by the banks, which would issue loans to persons allotted the land.

Chaudhry said the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme would bring about significant improvement in the country’s economy as Rs180 billion investment would be made in the scheme.

He said the Naya Pakistan Housing Authority would start working within two months and it would decide about the interest rate, which would be on the lower side.

The minister informed the media that the cabinet gave approval for the appointment of Air Marshal Arshad Malik as chairman of Pakistan International Airlines to control the rot, as the institution was suffering around Rs70 to Rs80 million on a daily basis.

He said the PIA was facing Rs406 billion debt, adding that the new chairman of the national flag carrier had been directed to immediately fix the institution’s economic condition.

Chaudhry said the process for appointment of new chief executive officer has started, which would take some time and during that period the PIA could not be left rudderless.

He said that PIA’s restructuring plan had been given to the Ministry of Finance.

The minister remarked that the cabinet had decided to hold thorough audit of the New Islamabad Airport project, which was supposed to be completed in Rs38 billion, but its cost escalated to over Rs100 billion.

“Everybody knows who was given the contract of the new airport,” he said. “The cabinet has asked the National Accountability Bureau to bring the facts about the project before the nation.”

Chaudhry further said, “Aoun Abbas has been appointed chairman of Bait ul Mal.”

He also announced that measures were being taken to crack down on smuggling of mobile phones.

By this year’s end, smuggled phones would not be operational in the country, the minister asserted.

He said the cabinet also discussed placing on and removing certain names from the Exit Control List (ECL), adding that there were currently 3,000 names on the list. GNews

He said that Minister of State for Interior Sheryar Afridi, who was praised by the cabinet for his role in demolition of buildings on encroached state land, would look into the matter of placement and removal of names on the ECL.

The government would complete whatever project it undertakes, the information minister vowed, saying that details of its 100-day plan could be accessed through its website.

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