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PML-N to back protest against ‘economic chaos’

Updated April 06, 2019

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Former finance minister Miftah Ismail claims economy is on verge of collapse. — AFP/File
Former finance minister Miftah Ismail claims economy is on verge of collapse. — AFP/File

KARACHI: Criticising the government for its failure to handle the economy and inflation, senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) Miftah Mohammad Ismail has said that his party will support every protest and movement against current economic conditions and growing unemployment.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, the former finance minister claimed that the next federal budget would have the highest rate of deficit in the country’s history and predicted that it would reach Rs2,500 billion during the current fiscal ending in June.

He alleged that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government (PTI) was causing more crises than solutions to the problems facing the country, claiming that the economy was on the verge of collapse.

Former finance minister claims economy is on verge of collapse

He said that the PTI, which had criticised the previous PML-N government for running the economy thorough loans, had after coming to power obtained Rs3,500bn loans from banks so far, which was again at the higher side compared to past governments’ tally.

“Every segment of the economy is out of its control and it seems that the government and its ministers have no understanding of economics,” Mr Ismail alleged.

He criticised the PTI government for what he called ignoring the promises made in the party’s election manifesto of creating new jobs, constructing houses for the poor, increasing budget for education and alleviating miseries of poor people. The revised prices of gas and electricity, he said, would bring about another wave of inflation which the people would have to bear from the next fiscal.

“We don’t see any of the PTI promises meeting reality checks,” said Mr Ismail. “Whether it’s a low-cost housing scheme or employment for 10 million people, there is no policy of the government and it has chosen to run the state on ad-hoc arrangements. The situation will worsen with increase in the key interest rate and prices of gas and electricity.”

He said that the statistics of the State Bank of Pakistan and other local and international institutions indicated that joblessness was increasing and more people were now falling below the poverty line while the country’s economy was not showing any sign of improvement in near future.

He expressed surprise over another tax amnesty scheme offered by the government recalling the PTI’s opposition to the same move when the PML-N was in power.

He said: “The PTI government has recently announced another amnesty scheme which would be introduced before the coming budget... to provide non-filers of tax returns an opportunity to whiten their undeclared assets at home and abroad and get into the tax net, besides introducing further budgetary measures in the run-up to entering into an IMF programme.

“They [PTI government] are offering amnesty scheme again and again without achieving the desired results,” he said. “When we [the PML-N government] had announced the same scheme, they had criticised us and portrayed the scheme as a national crime... Now they are bringing it which proves their failure and exposes incompetence of the government team looking after the national economy.”

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2019