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‘Austerity Claims Exposed’ As PM Imran Khan Sets To Expand Federal Cabinet

Political compromise is pushing PTI to accommodate PML-Q and BAP, analysts say

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Faisal Ali Ghumman

LAHORE MIRROR– Apparently toeing the line of his predecessors, Prime Minister Imran Khan is all set to expand the federal cabinet with the induction of two new ministers, taking its strength to 36.

Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) each have been assured by the government of one more ministry by the PTI government that took ‘u-turn’ from its August 2018 announcement of keeping the cabinet size including of allies short in the wake of financial crunch the country has been facing. 

PML-Q central leader Pervaiz Elahi’s son Moonis Elahi has reportedly been decided to be inducted into the cabinet and will likely take oath of Minister for Industries and Production next week. BAP has also demanded one more ministry during their meeting with the premier.

There are as many 24 ministers, six state ministers and four advisers in the existing cabinet. Besides them, there are four special assistants to the prime minister, who are generally not considered to be part of the federal cabinet.

In October 2018, six more aides of PM Khan were inducted into the federal cabinet. They were Muhammad Faisal Vawda, Senator Azam Khan Swati, Muhammad Mian Soomro, Ali Amin Gandapur and Sahibzada Muhammad Mehmood Sultan were sworn in as federal ministers, while Zartaj Gul Wazir was made minister of state.

According to the country’s Constitution, the maximum strength of the federal cabinet can be 49. Under Article 92 of the Constitution, “The total strength of the cabinet, including ministers of state, shall not exceed 11 percent of the total membership of Majlis-i-Shoora (parliament)”.

At present, the size of the cabinet has reached 70 percent of the allowed strength.

Political analysts are of the view that though the PTI government has yet to cross the constitutional limit of cabinet members, but expected increase in cabinet members shows that PM Khan believes more in keeping all allied parties intact to maintain his government rather reducing state expenditures.

They say the addition of new ministers with their perks and privileges will add insult to injury at time when the government is embattled with heavy foreign borrowings, balance of payments, current account deficit, dwindling income generation from domestic resources, and security protocols expenditures.