ISLAMABAD: Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan on Thursday alleged the PML-N government had damaged the national economy in a way that even its enemies could not have done so. “It was shocking how former prime minister Nawaz Sharif left the incumbent prime minister with a bankrupt economy,” he said.
He claimed that the country's economic performance during the PML-N era had been the worst, as compared to the governments of former president Pervez Musharraf and Asif Zardari.
He presented a ‘bleak picture of the national economy’ with particular reference to the performance of PML-N government’s four years, calling Finance Minister Ishaq Dar the hitman of Pakistan’s economy.
"Tell me what progress have you brought about. There has been no investment, direct taxation did not happen and yet they keep on claiming that they have brought about development and strengthened the national economy," Imran said.
The PTI chairman and party’s MNA Asad Umar came up with facts and figures, based on the statistics of government’s departments. Imran demanded of Dar to immediately resign after the NAB references against him.
The PTI chairman claimed the debt of Pakistan increased by $18 billion after the PML-N government came to power and external debt and liabilities increased to $80 billion in 2016-17. Imran pointed out that tax revenue was increased only by increasing taxes on basic goods. "Ishaq Dar kept on saying that tax revenue had increased, whereas it was not the case," he claimed. He also alleged that the former head of the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) would send billions to Dubai every month.
Flanked by Asad Umar and Shafqat Mehmood, Imran accused Dar of being Pakistan's economic hitman. Imran pointed out that Pakistan’s economy was in tatters but that of the Sharifs had been making steady progress.
The PTI leaders said that although the government claimed the economy was progressing, investment was falling whereas debt was on the rise and foreign exchange reserves were also tumbling fast. They pointed out various economic indicators during a slideshow, which they said was based on the government's own compiled data.
Asad charged Dar was attempting to ‘invent new economics’ but this was putting at risk the national security with the loans piling up in an unprecedented manner.
"Investments have always fallen ever since Nawaz Sharif came into power... and this time they are even lower than Zardari's era despite investments coming under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor," he pointed out.
He noted that record borrowing by any government was made by the PML-N regime and said that a record Rs10.8 trillion had been borrowed by the PML-N in its term so far, which he added was considerably higher than the Rs8 trillion borrowed during the PPP's five-year rule, and the estimated figure of Rs 2.2 trillion borrowed during Musharraf’s rule.
He pointed out that a large chunk of the borrowing was external debt. With regard to investment, he said investments had fallen during the PML-N's rule. "Nawaz Sharif spent Rs2.7 million a day on foreign trips to attract investment," Imran claimed. However, investment decreased during the PML-N's term.
“Investors neither from inside nor outside the country are investing because of rampant corruption,” Imran alleged and noted this was resulting in an increase in unemployment. A slide showed depleting foreign reserves: "Our exports have gone down from $25 billion to $21 billion, while exports from India and Bangladesh had increased in the same period," Asad claimed.
Asad pointed out to what he called an alarming current account deficit and depletion of foreign exchange reserves and said that Pakistan was moving towards another bailout package from the IMF and other donor agencies.
He noted that tax collection increased on the basis of more indirect taxations while direct taxes had registered a decline while three separate taxes had been slapped on gas and electricity bills.
"It is difficult for them to collect taxes from the rich because they have put a corrupt person in charge of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), who focuses on adjusting their own documents," Imran alleged and added they had done this to protect their own money, but other powerful people also benefited from it.
A slide showed power shortfall had increased to 6,000MW and it was more than when the PML-N formed the government with tall claims to end loadshedding within months. Imran and Asad alleged that the country had the most expensive electricity and gas rates in the region, with circular debt was also on the rise.
They noted that despite import of LNG, prices of gas had been increased massively, which dented the exports also. Asad said PPP left Rs480 billion circular debt, which was cleared within seven days by PML-N but the debt had again crossed Rs400 billion despite 50 percent fall in oil prices.
“Shocking how Nawaz Sharif has left the new PM with a bankrupt economy: Has left behind record increase in total debt and foreign debt,” Imran said in a tweet. He said that $30 billion was the deficit between exports and imports in the country, but there had been a lack of foreign direct investment despite the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Lashing out at the PML-N regime, Imran said that PML-N’s ‘experienced team’ had ruined every department and institution of the country. “Pakistan Steel Mills, Wapda, PIA have become liabilities for country’s economy,” he said.
Responding to a question, Imran stated that PTI-led government of KP performed incredibly in its four-year term and one could compare this tenure with the parties who got the opportunity more than six times. “Education, health, police and environment are the sectors in which KP government had made revolutionary changes and set a precedent for other parties,” he said.
In response to another question, Imran stated that corruption had been reduced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and it was a great success of the party. While commenting on the Rohingya crisis of Myanmar, he stated that his party condemned in the strongest terms the genocide of the Muslims in Myanmar and termed the negligence of the world in this matter extremely reprehensible.
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