Tuesday July 05, 2022

Govt accuses PTI of deliberately pushing country to default

June 24, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The government in the Senate on Thursday accused the PTI government of having deliberately pushed the country towards default by reneging on commitments made to the IMF but insisted that through tough decisions, it had been averted.

On the contrary, the opposition senators blamed what they called the confused incumbent government for messing up things to bring the country to the present critical situation of bankruptcy.

Taking part in the budget debate, ex-PM and PPP Senator Yusuf Raza Gilani came down hard on former premier Imran Khan’s government for giving relief packages despite having signed an agreement with the IMF and alleged that it was done with mala fide intentions, foreseeing their ouster from power. He reminded Imran having conceded that they were not prepared and hence should not have formed the government. Gilani claimed that they inherited the economy in a very bad shape. He questioned giving relief of Rs 10 on petrol and diesel and Rs 05 per power unit till June and wondered what options were left with them afterwards.

“We had two options before us: either to leave everything to be done by a government after elections or taking tough decisions, as an interim set-up could not take major policy decisions. We opted for the hard way and knew that public was unhappy but was aware of the ground realities,” he noted. He was confident that there would be agreements with the IMF, the ADB, China, Saudi Arabia, Europe and the US would also lend support if the country was in the right direction and the dollar value would also come down.

Participating in the budget debate, PPP Senator Sherry Rehman, who is minister for Climate Change, called for introducing a home-built economic model free from the influence of international financial institutions to achieve sustainable and exclusive growth for social prosperity of the country. She admitted that it was eventually a budget of the International Monetary Fund as the PTI government had agreed to tough conditions with the lender and it was an international obligation to honour national commitments. She asserted that the last government had not only taken the highest loans in Pakistan’s history but also dishonoured international agreements and commitments. She pointed out that despite an agreement with the IMF, they had started a Rs 500 billion unfunded subsidy programme, besides freezing POL prices when they were increasing in all international markets.

Due to such acts, she said, the country entered into diplomatic and economic isolation as all international partners and friendly countries were angry with Pakistan. However, she sounded optimistic that the hard decisions in larger national interest would soon start bearing fruit and the nation would see signs of recovery. She said that due to mismanagement and bad governance of the former government, the country reached the verge of default and the incumbent government decided to safeguard the state as well as its interests. It was difficult for every political government to take tough and unpopular decisions and damage its image besides losing its political capital. Unlike the previous government which used to say that the increasing prices of daily commodities like potato, onion and tomato were not a matter of its concern, the incumbent coalition government was very much aware of the hardships being faced by the common man in the country due to rising inflation, increasing POL prices and hours long power outages. Despite these challenging conditions, she maintained, the government decided to sacrifice its political interest for the supreme national interest and corrected the economic direction of the country.

Earlier, on a point of public importance, former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani proposed that the House make it part of the budgetary recommendations that before the next budget, the new NFC Award would be finalized, as presently the one thrashed out in 2010 was being followed. Referring to Article 160 of the Constitution, he suggested that the federating units get their NFC Award share as much as they were previously getting. He pointed out that during the eras of Zia and Musharraf, NFC Awards could not be materialized.

JI Senator Mushtaq Ahmad proposed that the recommendations should also include two key factors, i.e. poverty and population and the merger of FATA while making allocations under the NFC Award for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

PTI Senator and ex-Finance minister Shaukat Tarin again questioned how the revenue collection targets set in the budget under various heads would be achieved and termed them unrealistic. He wondered while they were debating the proposed budget tabled in the NA, how a new budget on fresh IMF conditions could be discussed, which envisaged, among other things, levying of Rs 440 billion additional taxes. He disputed Gilani’s claim on economy and referred to the Economic Survey, showing a promising picture of the entire economy including revenue collection, industrial and agriculture.