Pakistan austerity drive: Govt. starts selling cars, helicopters, buffaloes
As part of newly-elected PM Imran Khan's austerity drive, the cash-strapped Pakistan government has started auctioning 102 luxury vehicles of the PM House at "above market price". Monday saw 70 such vehicles sold. However, several critics say that the auction is merely cosmetic and aimed at garnering public attention, and will not contribute anything substantial to the government's coffers. Here are the details.
Details about the auction being held
The ongoing auction includes 27 bullet and bomb-proof luxury vehicles, and several non-protected ones. According to official figures, the Pakistan government spent as much 622 million Pakistani rupees (around $5mn) between January 2013 and January 2017, procuring official vehicles. The above-market-price auction is aimed at bringing some of that money back to the cash-strapped government as part of the Khan-led PTI's austerity drive.
Nawaz Sharif's buffaloes will also be sold in an auction
Additionally, as the Hindustan Times reports, the Pakistan government also plans to auction eight buffaloes kept by jailed former PM, Nawaz Sharif, at the PM House for "gastronomic purposes". Four surplus helicopters lying idle with the Cabinet Division are also expected to be put up for auction as part of the austerity drive.
The auction is symbolic at best, considering Pakistan's debt
Officials expect the auction to rake in a total of 2 billion Pakistani rupees (around $16mn). However, it's worth noting that the Pakistan government has a whopping $217bn worth of debt, and it's really unclear as to what $16mn, if raised, can do to change that. With Imran Khan taking a chopper to Islamabad almost every day, the auction remains symbolic at best.