Our staff reporter LAHORE - Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif presided over a high-level meeting at the Chief Ministers Secretariat for reviewing various proposals regarding self-reliance and cutting down non-developmental expenditure in the wake of the decision to shun foreign aid. Addressing the meeting, the chief minister said the Punjab government had already been implementing an austerity plan for reducing non-developmental expenditure and not only a committee had been formed for that purpose but such expenditure had also been reduced by Rs. 6 billion, according to a handout. The chief minister, the handout stated, said that funds generated through strict financial discipline and cutting of non-developmental expenditure would be spent on the welfare and provision of basic amenities to the masses. He said that third party audit system was being strictly implemented for monitoring the standard of construction of development projects and maintaining financial transparency due to which corruption had been eliminated from development projects and a high standard of construction work and timely completion of uplift schemes was also made possible. He said that after the decision not to take foreign aid further measures would have to be adopted for reducing unnecessary expenditure and generation of additional resources for achieving the goal of self-reliance. The participants of the meeting gave their proposals regarding curtailment of non-developmental expenditure and generation of additional resources. Meanwhile, Shahbaz Sharif said on Tuesday that achievement of self-reliance and getting rid of foreign aid was desire of the entire nation. Pakistan is passing through a critical phase and it is time decisions were taken in the interest of national security and survival, said the chief minister while addressing a consultative meeting of the members of National and Provincial Assemblies at Chief Ministers Secretariat here in the wake of the decision of the Punjab government to shun foreign assistance. The chief minister also demanded that recovery of loans of Rs. 270 billion written off on political basis should also be made as the beneficiaries were now the owners of factories, mills, expensive cars and palatial houses. Senior Advisor Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa, Provincial Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan, Mian Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman, Secretary Finance and Chairman Planning & Development were also present. The chief minister said that the biggest province of the country had decided to break the begging bowl and in order to implement that decision, practical steps would have to be taken to prove to the world that the living nations could survive for their dignity, honour and sovereignty without foreign assistance. He said history was witness to the fact that in the war for survival, the nations that took difficult decisions had always succeeded. He said that Pakistan was also fighting for its existence and the whole nation especially the elite would have to render sacrifices. Shahbaz Sharif said that Punjab government had taken a lead in giving up foreign aid and its decision would be supported by the whole nation. He said that such aid and charity could hardly be accepted which was at the expense of national dignity and blood of innocent citizens and for which violation of aerial space had to be tolerated and the orders of the others had to be obeyed. He said that after the decision, austerity would be promoted and non-developmental expenditure would be curtailed for generating additional resources. He said that it was ironic that while on the one hand charity of others was being accepted, on the other hand, national resources were being robbed. He said that the decision of the government would change the sorrows and miseries of the nation into joys and happiness. He said that getting rid of foreign assistance was an historic event and the nation would have to pass that acid test with commitment and determination. The participants of the meeting fully supported the decision to turn down foreign aid. They said that it was a bold and historic decision and the voice of the whole nation. They said that nation had pinned its hopes with Pakistan Muslim League-N and the Chief Minister had made a momentous decision in the interest of national security and survival and real political freedom. They also expressed full support to the Chief Minister and avowed to make every sacrifice for safeguarding national dignity and honour.