At a time when cash-crunch Pakistan was taking measures to boost its reserves, a man found out that the country was sending pensions to its 164 retired servants living abroad in foreign currencies. Many people would be dismayed by such reports amid the state’s efforts to unlock $700 million of the second tranche from the International Monetary Fund.
“The total expense of this amount is Rs200 million per annum,” Naeem Sadiq, an occupational health & safety professional, said in an interview with Imran Sultan on his show Dus which was aired on Aaj News on Saturday.
Pakistan’s total foreign exchange reserves stand at $12.53 billion total reserves, including $7.39 billion available with the State Bank of Pakistan and $5.13 billion with commercial banks.
Sadiq, who belongs to a group called Justice for the Voiceless, obtained the data through the Right to Information Act from the Foreign Office, following the Islamabad High Court orders on a petition.
His quest to seek information started after he came to know that some people who are retired officers and officials from five to six different departments were having this facility.
When asked, he said they are civil services, military, railways, and Water & Power Development Authority. In a broader term, he described them as bureaucrats.
While sharing his ordeal, he said none of the above mentioned departments entertained his request with such a query and asked him to approach the Foreign Office. But it advised him to ask the Accountant General Pakistan Revenues, which told him to again approach FO.
But the FO released all the details after the IHC order.
“Around 164 Pakistani officers of different departments live abroad and they are being sent dollars after buying them in rupees,” he said and added that it was being disbursed through different embassies.
He spoke about Article 25 (equality of citizens) of the Constitution, saying that special treatment violated this law.
Pakistan has 3.5 million pensioners, according to Sadiq. He stated that a “special privilege” was given to the 164 people. He was of the view that it was harmful to the country.
“We want the country to stop this foreign exchange conversion and sending abroad and treat every citizen equally so that our foreign exchange is saved,” he said and demanded that pensions should be capped at Rs200,000 and the minimum should be Rs20,000.
“Rs654 billion is our pensions budget. Why we are paying Rs1 million of pension,” Sadiq said.