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In Pre-budget seminar, PML-N chides PTI over economic policies

Shamraiz KhalidSenior Editor

03rd Jun, 2021. 10:47 pm
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Pre-Budget seminar

PML-N on Thursday slammed the incumbent government for the economic policies adopted in the last three years as the budget for the fiscal year 2021-22 is right around the corner. Addressing the Opposition’s pre-budget seminar, former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that Prime Minister Imran Khan “has no knowledge of the basics of economics” and makes decisions in line with advice from “courtiers”.

During the incumbent government’s tenure, as many as five million people have become unemployed, claimed Abbasi. The PTI-led government has heavily burdened people by increasing the price of electricity by 62% and has pushed 20 million people into poverty, claimed the former premier.

When the PML-N was in power, it had “taken 20 million people out of poverty”, he said. He further claimed that Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited were “bankrupt” today adding that financial losses due to line losses and electricity theft have gone up to 4.5%.

The country’s biggest issue was circular debt, said Abbasi. “Pakistan’s economy has shrunk by $19 billion in the last three years.” The command man’s income would have risen by 25%, even if the impact of coronavirus on the economy retroactively applied to the PML-N government’s economic indicators, claimed the former premier.

Implying that the general elections of 2018 were rigged, he said, “People have received the gift of inflation through a stolen election.”

‘Increase in loans by Rs45,000 billion’ – Pre-Budget seminar

Former Finance Minister Miftah Ismail claimed while speaking during the seminar, that the current regime had increased the loans of the government and state institutions by Rs. 45,000 billion and said that it was “toying with the economy.”

As part of its feeding the poor initiative, PM Imran Khan even takes food for “langar” from Saylani, an NGO, said the PML-N leader. The fiscal deficit during Imran Khan’s tenure in 2019 moved up to Rs.3,892 billion in 2020 whereas, in 2019, it stood at Rs, 3,829 billion.

Ismail said that Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin also admitted that an increase in interest rate increases debt. The government was able to increase exports by a mere 1% after devaluing the currency, he claimed.

‘We expected a 6% GDP with such massive loans’ – Pre-Budget seminar

The former finance minister said, “We were expecting a 6% increase in Pakistan’s GDP as the government had taken loans worth Rs15,000 billion.” He said that “loans of nearly Rs25,000 billion had now moved up to Rs38,600 billion” adding that despite procuring such massive loans, the government is still predicting a GDP growth of 4%.

Ismail said that during PML N’s tenure, the fiscal deficit stood at Rs, 1,500 billion, and now it is at Rs. 3,500 billion. “Federal Bureau of Revenue’s collection has also fallen to Rs3,897 billion.” If the FBR has crossed the Rs. 4,500 billion mark, it is no great achievement for PTI and “this was the target for 2019”, said the former finance minister.

He said, “The government’s austerity claims are lies […] its spending has moved up from 16% to 20%.” During PML-N’s tenure, exports stood at $24.76 million while they reached $25.51 million during PTI rule, claimed Ismail. He admitted that country’s reserves are increasing and that is a good sign, however at the end of his speech, he remarked that “no ruler has indebted this country as much as Imran Khan.”

‘Poster boy sacked in eight months’ – Pre-Budget seminar

Four finance people have held the finance ministry’s portfolio during this government’s tenure, said former Sindh Governer Muhammad Zubair as he also addressed the seminar. He asked, “Where are those 200 people who claimed they could fix the economy?”

PM Imran Khan had sacked PTI’s “poster boy” Asad Umar as finance minister within a span of eight months, he said while slamming the government. Zubair said that he advised Umar that the problem in their government was the captain – Imran Khan.

He also said, “When they were unable to find a suitable candidate for the post of finance minister, they reached out to Hafeez Shaikh.” They might now contact former deputy speaker for the Senate, Saleem Mandviwala, for the post of finance minister, he said while taking another jibe at the government.

Zubair said that the government was unaware of what had led to an additional expenditure of Rs. 800 billion. “The revenue growth target was set at Rs5.6 trillion, but the government could only reach 3.9 trillion.” He said that corruption and unemployment are still intact after 3 years and on the rise but the PTI, before coming into power, had vowed to end both in 90 days.

Zubair said, “In PTI’s three years, two finance ministers were from PPP … the same PPP whose economic policies Imran Khan would criticise.” There was a need to change the captain rather than the team’s players, he concluded.

‘PTI unable to inaugurate projects PML-N approved’ – Pre-Budget seminar

PML-N had approved development projects for Chilas and Mirpur, and Muzaffarabad in 2016 “but even after five years, PTI is unable to inaugurate them”, said former Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal. “Imran Khan has not been able to start works on projects like Railway ML1 and Keti Bandar,” he said, adding: “During PML-N’s tenure, meetings of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) would occur every six months.”

“However, it has met only two times since PTI came into power,” he added.


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