ISLAMABAD: As the country is facing serious economic and energy crisis, traders have called upon the government to ban the import and use of over 1,000cc cars by government officials to reduce consumption of petroleum products and overcome the energy crisis.

The president of Traders Welfare Association of Super Market, Sarfraz Mughal, while talking to media on Monday, said there was a need to get rid of IMF loans and to achieve that objective, the country needed to drastically reduce import of petroleum products which cost the national exchequer $20 billion annually.

He said the ban on use of over 1,000cc cars for government officials would reduce the consumption of fuel drastically.

“It will not be an alien policy for the country as during the tenure of former prime minister late Mohammad Khan Junejo in 1985, a policy was announced that government offices and officials would use only 800cc cars and vehicles,” Mr Mughal said.

Mr Junejo had announced the austerity drive in 1985 under which luxury vehicles for government officials had been replaced with 800cc to 1,000cc cars/vehicles. Under the policy, he said, it had been made mandatory for all government officials, including military establishment, to use small cars/vehicles.

His office and official residence also became a model for government officials as the prime minister had started entertaining his personal and family guests from his personal funds.

“We have been importing petroleum products of around $20 billion. Other expenses include payment of interest on foreign loans in foreign exchange. The nation should unite now to devise a strategy for repayment of debt. Politicians and businessmen should contribute from their wealth for repayment of the national debt,” Mr Mughal said.

He said that in the past the nation had also contributed when “Qarz Utaro Mulk Sanwaro” scheme had been launched during the tenure of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in the 1990s.

“I suggest that a joint account with the IMF should be opened and the elite of the country should be requested to deposit the money in it,” he said.

Another trader, Sheikh Muhammad Ghous, said that details of account should be shared with the media on a daily basis so that the credibility of the noble cause could be established and people could be informed how much amount/loan had been repaid and how much was still to be paid.

“Today our economy has been severely suffering and we have been forced by the IMF to accept all its conditions,” he added.

Another trader, Chaudhry Nadeem, said the whole nation should contribute to repay the national debt and the elite class should contribute more to this noble cause as it had benefited a lot over the last over 70 years.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2022

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