LAHORE: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari calls the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package illegitimate as it doesn’t carry parliament’s seal of approval.
“The deal signed with the IMF carries no legal value for it has been struck by a selected government and it has not been approved by the parliament,” he told participants of a seminar organised by party’s labour wing here on Wednesday.
He demanded that the loan agreement be renegotiated in the interest of the poor.
“We don’t accept this PTI-IMF deal and want to re-negotiate the deal in favour of the people of Pakistan, the working class and the poor,” he said, expressing his pessimism about anti-poor intentions of the PTI government.
“This government won’t do a deal with our labour force rather it sacrifices rights of labour at the altar of IMF.”
Pledging not to allow the privatization of state enterprises, he said whenever a selected government came into power public institutions are put on sale. But, he pledged that if former army ruler Pervez Musharraf could not succeed in privatizing state enterprises, a ‘puppet’ government won’t also.
“We will not let sell out of the institutions developed with the blood and sweat of labour force. We will not let them privatise these institutions,” he said, hoping that the judiciary would also play its role like in the Musharraf regime in checking sell-off at throwaway prices of public assets.
The PPP chairman said that every citizen was feeling the brunt of economic mismanagement of this “PTI-IMF” government as price-hike in the last 15 month is unprecedented. Citing reports by world agencies like Moody’s and Bloomberg, he said no international financial institution could tell better than the local workers the agony they were undergoing since this government came into being.
Distinguishing his party’s economic philosophy than that of other parties, Mr Bilawal said there’s a basic difference between the philosophy of the PPP and other parties. “Both the PTI and the PML-N think that if industrialists are given facilities and benefits they will spend to create more jobs. But we believe in spending more on labourers as most of the [public] money given to businesses and landlords go to their bank accounts but if the same cash is put into the pockets of the poor it immediately comes into circulation and thus helps run the wheel of economy.”
He said the PPP introduces programmes like the Benazir Income Support Programme under the same philosophy so that money went to the poorest of the poor. “This is the reason that whenever the PPP comes into power it increases wages and pensions.”
He recalled that during PPP’s 2008-13 tenure the world was in recession and the government also had to deal with two floods and the menace of terrorism but it created employment opportunities.
The PPP leader said that his party was starting its struggle against what he said economic murder of the people and urged the working class to join hands with it to win this fight.
“As grandson of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and son of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto it is my responsibility to struggle for the labour rights. I will not leave the labour force for a single day like you have not left Bhuttos for a day.”
He said that the labour policy of the Sindh government, where the PPP is in power, is pro-labour and has recognised the status of women workers in the agriculture sector women through an enactment. He said fruits of this and other pro-worker laws would soon be visible.
Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2020