• Vows to change system of power transition
• Gives targets to ministries to perform better
• Says electricity, subsidies, wealth creation are big challenges

ISLAMABAD: While giving his assessment of government performance, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said never should a new government come to power without homework and without getting briefings.

“When I review my performance, we took three months only to understand [issues as] everything that we had been looking at from outside was altogether different after we came to power.

“And then, I must also share, for one and a half years we remained unable to even know the actual figures of different sectors, particularly the power sector. From one ministry at times the figures indicated we were performing very well and then sometimes some other figure showed we were not performing that well. So I am giving my assessment that never a new government should come to power without homework and without getting briefings.”

Prime Minister Khan expressed these views at a special ceremony held to sign ‘Performance Agreements of the Federal Government for the Year 2020-21’ in Islamabad.

Addressing the gathering that included federal ministers and special assistants to the prime minister, Mr Khan claimed that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) did not get ample time to understand the issues confronting the country after the July 25 elections, as all their efforts till August 18 were aimed at arranging the required number of seats to make a coalition government.

While reviewing the preparation of his team for governance as compared to that of US President-elect Joe Biden’s, Mr Khan said after the recent US election, Biden got two and a half months to prepare himself for governance, select his team and get briefings from bureaucrats. In Pakistan, too, the system should be reviewed so that once one selects his team, then they should get “complete time” and “briefings” from each ministry before taking the oath to prepare themselves for governance, he believed.

But after completing more than half of its term, the PTI government was left with no excuse for not delivering, Mr Khan said while giving targets to all ministries, some of which did not perform, to improve performance in the remaining two and a quarter years of the five-year term.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, federal ministers of various ministries signed performance agreements with the prime minister.

The prime minister said the government and ministers have to put pressure on themselves to improve performance. “We have learnt during first two-and-half years of the government and now we have no excuse that we are new and now the time for performance has come,” he added.

Terming the signing of performance agreements a step in the right direction, the prime minister said the performance of each ministry would be evaluated based on the contracts and every ministry would put pressure on itself to meet its targets.

Among the government targets, he said he saw the power ministry as the biggest challenge for the country and his government. “Sometimes it keeps me awake at night that power sector is such a complex and complicated sector; there are so many different things that need to be rationalised and synchronised to provide people with affordable power and not add to the rising circular debt,” he added.

Then subsidies worth Rs2,500 billion was the second biggest challenge for his administration, he said, as all countries provided subsidies to benefit the poor and to uplift the less privileged areas.

Mentioning wealth creation as the third test for the government, Mr Khan said if exports were not increased, the issue of current account deficit would remain there.

Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2020

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