ISLAMABAD: As if daily harangues by their chairman Imran Khan against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif weren’t enough, other leaders of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf took the government to task at a press briefing on Wednesday over its ‘poor economic policies’.
“The government is using PTI’s Azadi march as an excuse to cover its bad economic performance. Actually, it’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and his team who have miserably failed to deliver on the promises of putting the country on the economic recovery track,” MNA Asad Umar said.
The member of the National Assembly from Islamabad and former head of a multinational company, challenged Senator Dar for a debate on the government’s fiscal policies which, he claimed, had been flawed from day one.
According to Mr Umar, even prior to the PTI’s protest movement, the government was performing poorly on the economic front.
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“Within its first 14 months, there was a significant dip in the large-scale manufacturing index from 138 to 112, five per cent decline in growth rate and three-fold increase in current account deficit to 1.4pc.”
Because of the government’s sheer failure in curbing increasing cases of electricity and gas theft, it went for massive borrowing which resulted in the ballooning of national debt, he said.
“The present government has borrowed an unprecedented Rs2,415 billion within 14 months, adding to the earlier overall national debt of Rs13,800bn,” he said, adding that now every Pakistani had a debt of Rs88,000, an increase from Rs74,000 when the government took over.
Mr said the 78pc increase in electricity cost was the major cause of a slowdown in exports which over the past year had decreased by 11pc. The imports have increased by 15pc.
On the government’s claim that it had suffered a loss of Rs500bn because of the continuing sit-in of the PTI, Mr Umar argued how a gathering restricted to D-Chowk could economically affect the country in such a big way.
“Whatever economic dent traders of Islamabad first received because of the metro bus project and now the continuous blockade of the city with containers, the government is squarely responsible for all this.”
Mr Umar demanded that the government announce a special relief package for local traders.
He claimed that the PTI’s pressure had forced the government to provide relief to people and the government had lifted the ban on jobs and decreased fuel prices which had dropped in the international market from $108 per barrel to $97long before the party’s protest movement.
Dr Arif Alvi said the standoff could be resolved if the government was interested.
“The government wrongly propagated that it had agreed to five and a half of our six demands, whereas actually it was unwilling to offer a meaningful election investigation,” he said.
The party’s information secretary Dr Shireen Mazari said its leaders would give a detailed press briefing on Friday on the performance of the PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.