ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said on Wednesday that under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif the PML-N government is fully cognisant of the need for completely transparent governance and service delivery, besides eliminating corruption from all the government departments.
“The government has, therefore, taken concrete measures to ensure that all its decisions and operations are conducted transparently in the larger interest of good governance,” he said while addressing the concluding session of one-day seminar titled “Transparency in public sector: an appraisal”, at a hotel. The seminar was organised by Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage and was attended by ministers, diplomats, senior government officials, experts, academia and journalists. Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Pervaiz Rashid inaugurated the morning session and also attended the concluding session.
Dar said the performance of the last two and a half years was in itself a proof that “our government is committed to transparency and good governance at every tier”. Pakistan’s ranking in Transparency International Index, which was at 127 in 2013, slightly improved to 126 in 2014 and will further improve when the 2015 rankings are announced, he said, adding that due to the prudent policies and austerity measures taken by the government, the fiscal deficit which was 8.8 percent when the PML-N government came into power, has been brought down to 5.3 percent and would further be reduced to 4.3 percent during the current fiscal year.
He added that tax collection growth rate during the five months of current financial year had witnessed an increase of 16.8 percent. Ishaq Dar said transparency was no more a buzzword, as it has become a norm of life and a basic requirement for democracy and good governance. “A political government, committed to the principles of democracy, can never undermine the importance of transparency”, he remarked. The finance minister said the world is at a cross roads and the emerging new “social contract” demands accountability from governments.
Citizens all over the globe are now more aware of their rights and responsibilities and demand accountability and socially responsible behaviour not only from corporations but also from governments, he added. The minister said that when the present government came into power, the national economy was on the verge of collapse and international organisations were predicting that Pakistan will default by June 2014, as no international organisation was ready to do business with Pakistan. He added the soon after coming into power the government initiated reforms and tried to stabilise the country’s economy and did home grown policies as a result the economy was put on the path of recovery and stabilisation and now those countries which were hesitating to do business with Pakistan were declaring Pakistan as the second best destination for investment.
“Our foreign exchange reserves have reached all-time high of $21 billion,” he remarked and told the gathering that government has eliminated the discretionary funds and secret funds of the ministries and divisions except the intelligence agencies. The government, he said, has assured the audit of its funds through the auditor general of Pakistan, while a 30 to 40 percent cut has been made in the non-development expenditures of the government departments. Dar said that in this age of information technology, independence of print and electronic media and proliferation of social media, even the worst dictatorship cannot afford to deny transparency not to talk of a representative democratic government.
“That is why ever since taking over the reins of government I ensured that the website of Ministry of Finance is up to date in all respects and at all times. Today every citizen of Pakistan can easily access any information regarding the economy of Pakistan by visiting the Ministry of Finance website which contains every detail including budget, economic survey and circulars issued from time to time.”
“I may also assure here that myself and my team are always available to face the media and to respond to their incisive and piercing queries because we have nothing to hide. We are proud of our clean conscience and unblemished repute which we shall jealously guard”. He added that PML-N government has for the first time in the history of the country published tax directory of the parliamentarians for the second consecutive year. The international community, he said, was also appreciating the government for his this achievement.
NEO Web Desk