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Sunday January 23, 2022

Miftah Ismail chides govt, terms SBP 'State Bank of IMF'

The government is "completely reliant" on the IMF for its policies, Miftah Ismail says

By Web Desk
December 31, 2021
PML-N leader and former finance minister Miftah Ismail addressing a press conference alongside PML-N leader Musadik Malik (not pictured) in Karachi on December 31, 2021. — YouTube
PML-N leader and former finance minister Miftah Ismail addressing a press conference alongside PML-N leader Musadik Malik (not pictured) in Karachi on December 31, 2021. — YouTube

KARACHI: After the PTI-led government unveiled the SBP Amendment Bill in the National Assembly yesterday, the State Bank of Pakistan has "now become the State Bank of IMF", PML-N leader and former finance minister Miftah Ismail said Friday.

 Miftah, addressing a press conference alongside PML-N leader Musaddik Malik, said the government is "completely reliant" on the international money lender for its policies.

Federal Minister for Finance Shaukat Tarin yesterday presented the much-awaited supplementary finance bill — termed by the Opposition as a "mini-budget" — in the National Assembly, as a pre-requisite to resume the $6 billion External Fund Facility (EFF) of the IMF.

The Opposition staged a vehement protest and chanted slogans to prevent Shaukat Tarin from introducing the The Finance (Supplementary) Bill, 2021 and State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in the House.

"State Bank is now a higher authority than the parliament [...] we are not against the State Bank's autonomy, but now, there will be no oversight of the fiscal and monetary policy," Ismail said.

The PML-N leader said the government will not be able to borrow loans from the central bank now, as he lashed out at Prime Minister Imran Khan for "surrendering before the IMF".

"Even if a flood hits the country, the government cannot take loans from SBP," he said.

The former finance minister also noted that now the parliament can no longer circulate summaries without the "IMF State Bank's" approval.

'Nothing that is not taxed'

On the Finance (Supplementary) Bill 2021, Ismail said inflation will surge in the country as the government had introduced a wide-range of taxes on edible and commonly used items.

"If the country receives a donation, it will also be taxed [...] only Toshakhana gifts and the air we breathe will not be taxed," the PML-N leader said.

The government has proposed taxes on solar panels, canola oil seeds, irrigation items, bread, raw materials of medicines, wheat, spices, mobile phones, laptops, and other items, the PML-N leader said, noting that further taxes worth Rs300 billion have been proposed.

"There is nothing that is not taxed," he said, adding that the government is not cutting its expenses, and as a result, it had decided to impose new taxes on the masses.

'East India Company has returned'

For his part, PML-N leader Musaddik Malik said the "East India Company" had returned to Pakistan, as he asked the prime minister to draft a budget that benefits the common Pakistani.

"I'd like to see Imran Khan make a budget for one who earns Rs20,000

"You have taxed medicines [...] should people (be compelled this way to) bury their old parents?" he asked.

He noted that the underprivileged, who make do with pulses and vegetables for meals, will now have nothing to turn to as the government seeks to tax these items too.

"If we continue to get electricity bills of Rs8,000, what will we eat?"

The PML-N leader said during the government's negotiations with the IMF, "no one from Pakistan was present there, as on both sides of the table, IMF's representatives were present".

"Those who truly stood for Pakistan were removed on the prime minister's orders," he alleged.