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Monday July 22, 2024

Debate in NA: Opposition leader terms budget ‘economic terrorism, fraud’

Omar Ayub Khan termed the federal budget a pack of lies, fraud and economic terrorism against the country and its people

By Our Correspondent
June 21, 2024
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Omar Ayub Khan. — YouTube screengrab/Geo News
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Omar Ayub Khan. — YouTube screengrab/Geo News 

ISLAMABAD: The opposition leader in the National Assembly, Omar Ayub Khan, Thursday termed the federal budget a pack of lies, fraud and economic terrorism against the country and its people.

“The federal budget has been prepared by another hitman, who occupies the country’s financial affairs and always leaves behind ruins and worst economic indicators,” he said while kicking off the debate on the federal budget.

Omar Ayub said the economic growth of India was negative while Pakistan’s economy was developing during the Covid-19 period, but now the neighbouring country has left Pakistan behind when one talks about economic indicators. “After Imran Khan’s government was sent packing, Pakistan’s economic growth rate went down to 0.2 per cent, while India’s growth rate was 7.8pc, the unemployment rate in India was 4.5pc and that of Pakistan was 8.5pc, inflation rate in Pakistan was 30pc, and in India, it was 5.4pc in 2023,” Omar Ayub claimed, adding that economic growth rate of Bangladesh this year was 5.7pc.

He said the federal budget would shake the foundations of the country in the days to come, adding that as per the London Plan, the country’s economy was derailed, which now had resulted in a fraudulent budget. “There were people like General Bajwa and Khawaja Asif who played their role in toppling the PTI government and destroying the country’s economy,” he said.

The PTI leader said that the Shehbaz Sharif government, which was the product of Form 47, was addicted to contradicting itself. “On the one hand, Prime Minister Sharif claims to end corruption, and on the other hand, amends the NAB law to absolve himself and his likes of corruption charges,” he said and also talked about the London flats and Hudaibia Paper Mills cases.

The leader of the opposition said the incumbent government was based on corruption and was installed only to promote corruption in the country. “This government is of the corrupt, by the corrupt and for the corrupt,” the opposition leader said.

Omar Ayub said the government was itself admitting in the budget document that the country’s economy was sinking. But, on the other hand, they were also claiming that the economy was booming. He said the PDM-1, PDM-2 and interim government collectively increased the debt burden of the country by Rs18,283 billion, adding that the burden would increase further by the end of the ongoing fiscal year on June 30, 2024. He said that the then interim chief minister of Punjab, who has now been promoted as the federal minister for interior, allowed the import of wheat worth Rs450 billion.

The opposition leader came down harshly on the government for doing away with the ‘Sehat Card’, which was a facility for the poor. He also termed the Public Sector Development Programme as a pack of lies and an eyewash. “Last year, the PSDP allocation was Rs950 billion, while Rs660 billion were spent and now the present government has allocated over Rs1,400 billion under the PSDP,” he added. He questioned where the government would finance development projects if they had no money. “That is why I am saying the federal budget is a pack of lies and self-deception,” he said.

Omar Ayub, while contradicting the government’s claims of initiatives to uplift women, said that female imprisoned leaders of PTI were being subjected to inhuman treatment and also called the IG Police of Punjab as a government tout. He predicted the inflation rate was destined to increase rapidly due to economic measures taken by the government, saying that the bank’s interest rate would also increase in the days to come. “The inflation rate of the country will be skyrocketing as the fiscal deficit of Rs18,000 billion will be financed from banks,” he said.

Ayub said that on the one hand, the government announced up to 25pc raise in salaries and on the other hand, the inflation rate is bound to touch the figure of 45pc. “This budget is like a tool to increase the prices of commodities and raise the inflation rate,” he added.

He said the budget was a nexus between forces who never like to see the supremacy of the Constitution and law in the country and want to see people in chains of slavery. He also questioned what the Special Investment Facilitation Council had achieved in the last one-and-a-half years, saying that one-window operation to facilitate investors had also met with failure.

“All investments which the government is claiming are in the air,” he said.

The leader of the opposition said the SIFC, Board of Investment and Privatisation Commission could achieve nothing unless there was a rule of law and the PTI founder was again installed as prime minister. He said the government was targeting to receive Rs5,512 billion through direct taxation and Rs7,458 billion through indirect taxation. He pointed out that last year, Rs5,100 billion in indirect taxes were increased to a revised target of over Rs5,500 billion, whereas the government underperformed when it came to direct taxation as it was unable to collect taxes from the elite class.

Ayub said that with an increase in petroleum levy, the government is going to rob every person of Rs80 per litre. He said that smaller provinces should get a timely share from the National Finance Commission. “They have not released the share of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from the NFC only because they voted for PTI in the general election,” he added.

The leader of the opposition said the country was facing a shortfall of 6,500 MW due to inefficiency and mismanagement of distribution companies, saying that loadshedding during the PTI regime had come down to zero. Omar Ayub also strongly objected to the increase in the budget of PM House from Rs620 million for 2023-24 to Rs800 million for the upcoming fiscal year. He also pointed out that the budget for the PM Office had been enhanced by Rs225 million whereas there is nothing in the budget for minorities. He also criticised the government for allocating a small amount of Rs5 billion for the Kissan Package. Negating claims of giving a people-friendly budget, he said the country would not experience such an anti-people and anti-poor government ever. Ayub reiterated that at least 86 National Assembly seats from the PTI had been stolen as the chief election commissioner acted as a facilitator to steal the elections. Ayub asked the government to give freedom to the press, saying that nobody was there to believe in the state-run television. “The biggest punishment the PTI founder is suffering from is that he has to watch Pakistan Television in the prison,” he said.

Criticising a statement of Shehbaz Sharif, the opposition leader said the PM of Form 47 was nobody to say that Imran Khan should be kept in prison for another five years. He said the country would progress only when there was the rule of Constitution and law in the country and general elections were held fairly and transparently.