ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has expressed concern over record rate of inflation in the country and slammed the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government for not taking parliament into confidence on its plan to have renegotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
In a statement issued here on Tuesday, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari pointed out that the monthly inflation had reached 11.1 per cent and the annual inflation rate 14.1pc. Moreover, according to the Wholesale Price Index, the inflation rate has reached 16.6pc while, according to the Sensitive Price Index, the inflation rate has risen to 21.3pc.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari alleged that the government had unleashed a maelstrom of inflation and to add insult to injury there seemed to be no intent to decrease inflation and ease the burden on the working class.
“How can a country survive economically when it imports sugar and flour while producing wheat and sugarcane in abundance?” he wondered.
Govt criticised for not taking parliament into confidence on renegotiation with IMF
“People have been squeezed dry trying to survive this unbearable inflation under the selected government, while Imran Khan’s regime is adamant on not listening to anything but sycophantic praise for the puppet prime minister,” he said.
The PPP leader said the Sindh government was trying to heal the wounds of inequality of the poor by issuing Benazir Mazdoor Card in these days of spiraling inflation.
“History will bear witness that when Imran Khan was wreaking havoc through increasing inflation, poverty and unemployment, the PPP [government in Sindh] was employing innovative ideas to provide relief to the common man through limited resources available to it,” he said.
“The puppet prime minister cannot handle the increase in prices of staples such as potato, onion and tomato, while the cost of oil, ghee, sugar, flour, pulses, fruits, vegetables and meat has also skyrocketed. Name a single commodity which has not registered an unprecedented increase in price during this selected government,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, PPP’s parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman said in a separate statement that they had heard that the government was thinking to renegotiate with the IMF, but regretted that parliament was under dark on the issue.
“After telling them all along that these [power] tariff hikes are unjustified, now we hear that the government is thinking to renegotiate the IMF agreement. We have been saying the exact thing but were always told by U-turn Sarkar (government) that they are on the right track. As always, parliament has not been taken on board on any policy, either now or earlier. What exactly is their plan?” she asked. Ms Rehman issued the statement a day after newly appointed Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin told a National Assembly committee that the IMF would be convinced to relax its conditions, particularly those related to power tariff hike.
Mr Tarin had reportedly said that the higher power tariff was leading to corruption and badly affecting the economic growth, adding that the conditions agreed to under the IMF programme were very harsh.
Sherry Rehman said that for the last two years the per unit price of electricity had gone up by 200pc and now finally the government had woken up to realise that the increase in the tariff was unreasonable.
“Are they going to compensate people for all the jobs lost and the families destroyed?” she asked.
The PPP senator said that if the government had already agreed with the IMF to increase petroleum levy from Rs510 billion to Rs607bn in 2022 and raise gas tariff by an additional Rs100bn, then how did it plan on controlling inflation in the country.
“Since day one, we warned the PTI government that IMF’s policies would burden the poor but no one paid any heed. Now, after leaving Pakistan’s economy on the ventilator, overburdening the masses with back to back tariff and taxes, the PTI government realises that IMF’s tariffs are unjustifiable. We have never seen anything like this before in the past,” she said.
Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2021