Gilani brushes aside criticism of cabinet’s size
Gilani brushes aside criticism of cabinet’s size Gilani brushes aside criticism of cabinet’s size Gilani brushes aside criticism of cabinet’s size

PUBLISHED 7/14/2017
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday defended a “heavy cabinet”, saying it would not put an extra burden on the national exchequer.

The prime minister was talking to newsmen after the groundbreaking ceremony of the Prime Minister Housing Scheme here. The prime minister put aside criticism from various segments of the society on the large-sized federal cabinet and said the expenditure incurred

on ministers was not more than the amount spent on parliamentarians. He said though there was criticism on the cabinet’s size yet no one had criticised his choice.

“The size of the cabinet is in line with various government ministries, divisions and departments. With the number of National Assembly and Senate members reaching 342 and 100, respectively, the government required more federal ministers and ministers of state to respond to the queries of parliamentarians and ensure the government’s accountability during the Question-Hour,” the prime minister said while justifying the oversized cabinet.

He hoped the inclusion of more ministers would improve efficiency of the government departments. Ministers have been asked to cut their foreign tours and reduce unnecessary expenditures in their ministries.

To a question regarding the inclusion of the MQM and the JUI-F in the federal cabinet, the prime minister said invitation had been extended to the MQM and the party was likely to join the cabinet soon. “Altaf Bhai is our friend and we have invited them (MQM) to join the cabinet at a press conference. Insha’Allah, they will definitely join.”

Regarding the JUI-F’s reservations on the distribution of portfolios, he denied reports of differences with the JUI-F, saying the JUI-F had not expressed any reservations. “They stand by us and will soon join the cabinet,” he added. To another question on the large entourage of President Asif Ali Zardari to Saudi Arabia, he said the president had taken his entourage to Saudi Arabia at his personal expense.

Earlier, addressing the groundbreaking ceremony of the Prime Minister’s Housing Scheme for the low-paid government employees, Gilani announced one million housing units for the deprived sections of the society across the country. He said the programme would include introduction of 5-marla scheme for the shelterless people in rural areas and flats, and 80-square yards plots in urban areas, besides providing houses or apartments to the government employees on or before their retirement. He said in his first speech in parliament he had assured the nation that the democratically-elected government was committed to providing affordable homes to poor and low-income groups of the society.

He said the government was also taking steps to provide gross subsidy to make housing facilities affordable for the low-income groups and low-paid government employees. “The banking sector and the micro-credit institutions have been asked to provide mortgage finance on affordable terms to the poorest section of the society,” the prime minister said. He said the programme would be led by the private sector. “The ministries concerned such as the Housing and Works and the Finance have been directed to encourage and facilitate local and foreign builders and the provincial governments by providing fiscal and regulatory incentives,” he added.

The prime minister said the government was determined to utilise its resources for the welfare of the people in accordance with the political philosophy of their great leader Shaheed Benazir Bhutto.

By Asim Yasin