Pakistan cabinet bans first-class air travel for top officials, revises working hours

Islamabad: In a bid to show its commitment towards the pre-poll promise of austerity, Pakistan’s new cabinet on Friday banned first-class air travel for the country’s top officials, including the President and head of the government.

Dawn reported that the decision to dis-allow first-class air travel was taken during the second meeting of the federal cabinet in a week and one which was presided by Pakistan’s newly-elected PM Imran Khan. During the meeting, a decision was taken that the country’s top officials – president, PM, chief justice, Senate chairman, National Assembly speaker and chief ministers would no longer have the privilege of flying first-class on international flights. Instead, they would have to make do with business or club class.

One of the reasons cited for the decision is that flights being operated from Pakistan do not offer the first-class category and foreign airlines charge fares for this category which are nearly three-hundred times higher than fares for business or club class.

Imran Khan himself has reportedly decided to make use of business-class tickets when flying abroad, instead of travelling in his special plane. This plane would, instead, be reserved for his travels within the country.

While the cabinet did clamp down on first-class air privileges, it shot down a proposal to have six working days instead of five in government departments. The proposal was initially mooted to increase productivity but was eventually rejected. There is no change in the number of working hours either although working times have been changed from 8-4 to 9-5.

Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf emerged victorious in the recently held elections in the country. During heated campaigning, the cricketer-turned-politician had – among several promises – assured that austerity would figure high in his priority list. This is primarily due to the grave economic crisis that the country currently finds itself in.

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