Pakistan’s PM Nawaz Sharif likes to live life king-size. He doesn’t really fancy making any compromises- be it the decor in his home or office, the aesthetic beauty of his landscaped garden spaces, sniffer dogs to ensure his safety, latest cars to drive around in, or eating into the emergency relief budget, to train pilots for his VVIP choppers.
Regardless of Pakistan’s poor economic growth, high inflation, internal and external security and energy crises, no expense is spared to ensure he is on par with world leaders from wealthy nations. The “Supplementary Demands for Grants and Appropriations 2013-14,” data released on June 4, 2014, shows six sniffer dogs and two BMW cars were bought for him, through an additional budgetary allocation, while millions were spent on renovating his official residence and the PM’s office.
To place things in perspective, the latest World Bank data shows 60.2% of Pakistan’s population currently lives on $2 a day, with significant inequality on the national scale in the distribution of income and consumption. Pakistan’s position in the Human Development Index (HDI) in 2013 was 136 out of 177 countries. 40% of Pakistan’s urban population was found living in slum areas in 2013.
The International Food Policy Research Institute released its Global Hunger Index (GHI) in 2013, which ranked Pakistan at 57.
However, regardless of Pakistan’s ground realities, the documents reveal- six sniffer dogs were purchased for security duties at the Prime Minister House in Islamabad for an unprecedented Rs 2,400,000.
An amount of Rs 120 million was spent on buying two BMW-76 Li High Security Sedans for the prime minister as well.
The budget document is reportedly full of details about VVIP expenditures ranging from VVIP emergency visits to costly maintenance of public offices. An amount of Rs16.4 million was spent on repair and maintenance of the Prime Minister House while repair and maintenance of the PM office cost a whopping Rs 12 million. The document states Rs 1,022,000 was spent on the PM office garden alone.
The document also made shocking revelations about how the government saw nothing wrong with using money meant to be spent on emergency relief, on the training of pilots who would carry out VVIP mission of AW-139 helicopters, instead. An amount of Rs 29 million was spent on the promotion of this VVIP culture. The initial budget for the PM office was Rs 754 million while a supplementary grant of Rs 68 million was approved later, which raised the total budget of the PM office to a mind boggling Rs 823 million.
Austerity is clearly not much of a priority for Nawaz Sharif.