ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin on Tuesday laid down in the Senate a copy of the Money Bill, the Finance (Supplementary) Bill, 2021 amid loud protest by the opposition, alleging it will have serious implications for the national security while Senator Sherry Rehman called it a bizarre trade of Pak sovereignty.
PPP Parliamentary Leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman said this particular deal with the IMF has serious implications for Pakistan’s decision making to protect its national security interests. “It will be borrowing now to just repay debt interest and will continue to impose crippling regressive taxes on the people while being unable to borrow from its own central bank in a moment of peril or crisis or need. What if the defence of the country requires emergency mobilisation of funds,” she argued.
“This is a bizarre trade of the country’s sovereignty. With the Taliban cutting our border fence on the one side and on the other side Modi’s aggression, any contingency can arise. But it looks like we will need the IMF’s approval to even defend our country,” she regretted. She said contrary to the government’s completely misleading claims that there was no inflation in the country, inflation has skyrocketed to the point that people are unable to afford necessities such as two square meals or even electricity. Unfortunately, the future looks bleak due to the disastrous mini-budget. Tabahi Sarkar has sold the Pakistani economy to the IMF and completely turned its back on the plight of the people of Pakistan, she said.
Regarding its impact on poor people, she continued, “inflation has jumped from 11.50pc in November to a whopping 12.30pc in December and yet the government claims that there is no inflation in the country and the economy is in an improved state. The ground reality is that Pakistan’s economy has been put on the ventilator due to the disastrous policies of the PTI government and poor people, yet again, are at the forefront of feeling the brunt of these policies.”
She lamented that there was no stopping the government in further worsening the situation: they have agreed to the terms with the IMF for $1 billion and will now enact the mini-budget that will bring a whole new wave of inflation. Catastrophe awaits every working class Pakistani, even middle-class people have become beggars in this country due to the rampant inflation, food insecurity and unemployment.
On the serious implications of the State Bank Bill, she said, “Despite the near-bankrupt state of our economy, the government has sold the State Bank to the IMF. According to the State Bank Amendment Bill, which has been deemed unconstitutional time and again, the government will no longer be able to take loans from the State Bank”.
Speaking on the tax directory released, she said, “Once again the government has found a tactic to distract the people of the country on their incompetence and blame the opposition for their own inadequacies. Tax returns show that Yusuf Raza Gillani, who paid over 17 lakh agriculture tax, along with other senators, paid no taxes in 2019 but they have deliberately manipulated the facts for the media. Yusuf Raza was not a senator at the time when he is alleged to not have paid tax. At that time, he paid full agri taxes. The FBR and media have released inaccurate and misleading information regarding how much tax is being paid by the new senators, even though our assets and taxes are completely accounted for and are traceable”.
She alleged that the PTI regime has failed in governance and is using media tricks to hide the fact that inflation is at 12.30pc, the rupee value is fast eroding and that the entire country is against their dealings with the IMF. There is no denying that most of the country is dissatisfied with this government’s performance, predicting this mini-budget will take this regime down.
Referring to a statement by Tarin that the negotiations at this time with IMF were very tough, as the donor agency faced immense pressures from the United States, ex-chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani rose to demand of the minister on behalf of the nation and the House what exactly were those pressures and why the government had to concede to IMF conditionalities and what were those.
Rabbani said under the mini-budget, electricity tariff would further go up and on Monday the finance minister was candid enough to say that oil prices the other day were increased on the demand of IMF. “The nation wants to know what was that US pressure on IMF, which it was exerting on us? It means the government has mortgaged the national security,” he asked.
He noted the SBP amendment would have its serious implications on national security. The minister, he demanded, must take the nation and the House into confidence on those IMF conditions/ US pressures, as the nation has much more resilience than Stalingrad and could rise to these pressures.
The House witnessed three walkouts by the opposition senators on the opening day of the new session.
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