ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has criticised the government over the issue of electricity and gas tariff, alleging that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has directed Prime Minister Imran Khan to increase the electricity rates.
“Imran Khan has run the Pakistani economy on the instructions of the IMF hence tarnishing the country’s image,” he said in a statement on Monday.
The PPP chairman said the people were suffering the consequences of Imran Khan’s “incompetence in the IMF deal” through their high electricity and gas bills.
Sherry says average food inflation hovers around 18.7pc
“Imran Khan has now planned to rob 700 billion rupees from the pockets of the poor people,” he alleged.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari said Prime Minister Khan was proud of his performance whereas the people were looking for this performance with expensive electricity and gas bills in their hands.
“Imran Khan, who once tore the electricity bill at Rs8 per unit, is now silent when it has gone up to Rs21 per unit,” he added.
He said Imran Khan had no idea about the situation of a middle class family unable to use an air-conditioner due to expensive bills in this hot weather and during the month of Ramazan.
“In the state of Madina, will the savings of a middle-class common man be used only to pay electricity and gas bills?”
The PPP chairman said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had staged a sit-in at D-Chowk against inflation and its government was now making people stand in queues in banks to pay expensive electricity bills. He said the people of Pakistan were paying a terrible price for change in the face of high electricity and gas bills.
He asked the government to announce a reduced tariff for the consumers using up to 300 units per month. He said the extraordinary increase in electricity and gas prices had created havoc in the country by bringing a tsunami of inflation.
In a separate statement, PPP’s parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman said that Pakistan was going through unprecedented times as along with fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, the people were now fighting the “Tabahi (destructive) virus” that this government had brought upon them.
“From 2018, Tabahi Sarkar has taken foreign loans worth a whopping $33 billion which includes Eurobonds. World Bank projects only 1.3 per cent GDP growth for our economy which is the lowest in South Asia. External debt has
skyrocketed by 7.5pc to Rs18 trillion in a year while our overall public debt has crossed Rs44tr. This is the same PTI which claimed that it would not borrow but return loans. Why have they gone back on their words?”
Senator Rehman said that instead of giving relief to the people in Ramazan, the government was burdening them with extreme inflation.
“Average food inflation hovers around 18.7pc which is the highest in South Asia.”
Ms Rehman said despite a report of the Competition Commission of Pakistan that the PTI leaders made billions from sugar hoarding, some were still holding key positions.
“People are battling both a severe spike in Covid-19 transmission along with a 17.68pc surge in food prices this year,” she said.
“Due to their enhanced borrowing and irresponsible governance, each person in Naya Pakistan will have a debt of Rs175,000 on them,” she said. “Where is all this money going if Tabahi Sarkar did not even pay for the vaccines to protect even one per cent of Pakistan’s population and waited for China to bail them out?”
So far, she regretted, with all donations the government had only secured 22.2 million doses of vaccines.
The Economist Intelligence Unit estimates that Pakistan will be able to vaccinate 60-70pc of its adult population by early 2023.
“Relying on donations like Covax is not really a plan. The government has vaccinated 1.7pc of its 100m adult population. It is a painful reality but our positivity rate is increasing; we have lost more than 150 healthcare workers to the virus, our reported cases have crossed 800,000 and we are heading towards acute oxygen shortage as cases continue to rise,” she added.
The PPP senator said: “Despite the challenging situation, we are yet to see an action plan by the government. Where is the government? The continuous cabinet reshuffling is a clear reflection of the confused state the government is in. PTI is engulfed in a political chaos and the country is paying the price for it.”
Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2021