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Govt’s cruel measures crushing the poor, economy, says Shehbaz

Shehbaz Sharif PML-N president

Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif: Photo: File

LAHORE: President Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif has said that the cruel measures of the government are crushing the poor and the economy and strongly criticized the PTI government for increasing nearly Rs4 per unit in electricity tariff.
In a statement issued here on Tuesday, Shehbaz said that the tariffs of electricity, inflation, unemployment and economic catastrophe would further increase under this disastrous regime. He said that this increase in electricity, fuel, gas and taxes was slavery of the IMF.
The PML-N rejected this government’s thinking and measures, he added. He pointed out that the relief for global oil price decrease had not been passed on to the people, but the poor had been mocked by the imposition of petroleum development levy and sales tax.

Read more: Nepra approves Rs3.75/kWh hike in consumer tariff

“Why shouldn’t the nation call the Prime Minister a thief when fuel prices have shot through the roof; when inflation is out of control; when unemployment is destroying families; when over the past three years and four months of the PTI government the rupee depreciated by more than 30.5% against the dollar. This is the biggest devaluation of the rupee after 58 percent of the value at the time of the fall of Dhaka. Is this the new Pakistan?” Shehbaz questioned.
He said the nation needs a capable, honest and competent leader elected by the people. National security, economic sovereignty and recognition of failure is in national interest instead of trapping the people, he said.
The PML-N president said, “Imran Niazi was playing with national security and people’s lives the country and its people should not have to pay the price for his ego, stubbornness, incompetence and corruption. It is unfortunate that Pakistan is today seen as a crisis-ridden country in the world. The country which was one of the twenty emerging economies of the world under Nawaz Sharif is now on the list of crisis affected”.
He also stated that the value of immovable property was increased from 35% to 700%. This move would further curtail business activities in the country and further slowdown the economy, he observed. How would people buy property after this measure, he asked and added that it would actually reduce tax collections. He went on to say that more than 50 industries related to steel, cement blocks, bricks and the construction sector would be adversely affected. He advised that stakeholders in the sector should have been consulted before taking such an initiative.
Shehbaz also warned the government against the ‘hot money’ initiative, which had already hurt the economy. After exiting the IMF program in 2017, the interest rate was 5.7% and GDP was 5.8%. With this growth rate under Nawaz Sharif regime, the inflation rate also came down significantly and maintained a single digit inflation rate. He said Nawaz Sharif’s tenure was the only period in history in which the growth rate exceeded 5.8% despite the IMF program.
Due to this economic performance of Nawaz Sharif government, the confidence of investors had increased and the value of rupee had stabilized.
The opposition leader said the government was going to take about Rs 800 billion worth of new financial measures which would put a lot of pressure on the people and the economy. The Rs250 billion cut in development expenditure and new taxes of Rs550 billion was absolute oppression with the people of Pakistan. These measures were tantamount to burning Pakistan’s economy to ashes especially at a time where the inflation had already choked the people.
Shehbaz said Pakistan’s external account position was already fragile, and these steps would create more problems. Economists were questioning why the current government had not properly negotiated an agreement with the IMF in the national interest, he said.

Shehbaz confirmed that the IMF did not even allow the PTI government to borrow 2% of GDP in one fiscal year. The only way out of this mess was a higher and steady GDP growth rate, he maintained.

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