Govt, opposition challenge each other’s economic statistics

Published May 31, 2021
In this file photo, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry addresses a press conference in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV/File
In this file photo, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry addresses a press conference in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: The government and the opposition on Sunday continued making claims and counter-claims regarding the country’s prevailing economic situation with both challenging each others’ statistics ahead of the presentation of the federal budget next month.

When federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry through a series of tweets targeted the opposition for calling protest demonstrations at a time when the country’s economy was booming, the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) challenged the government to issue a comparison of economic indicators for the year 2018 when the PML-N ended its term with the present indicators after the three-year rule of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government.

Meanwhile, PML-N president and Leader of the Oppo­sition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday presided over a “virtual session” of the party’s Economic Advisory Council in which he directed the party members to “expose the government’s dismal and disastrous economic performance”.

The information minister on the other hand claimed that positive results of the economic policies of the incumbent government had started yielding results. In this scenario, he said, it was a mind-boggling question as to why the opposition was calling for protest demonstrations when the economy was booming and the living conditions of the common man were improving.

PML-N asks PM to make a comparison of current indicators with situation in 2018

“Who will be benefited from such negative politics,” he questioned.

The minister said the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the PML-N whenever came into power had ruined the economy, resultantly the country endured an economic downturn.

The minister claimed that for the first time in the country’s history, record Rs4.143 trillion revenues had been collected during the current fiscal year so far. The landmark achievement, he said, was made due to prudent economic policies of the PTI government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan. He said expatriate Pakistanis had contributed immensely to economic revival by sending over Rs1,000 billion to the country.

Likewise, he said, record production of wheat, rice, sugarcane and maize had been recorded while Rs1,100bn had been transferred to the agriculture economy.

The transfer of money, he said, had increased purchasing power of farmers. Consequently, the sale of tractors had also increased by 64 per cent. The use of fertiliser and pesticides also registered a significant increase, he said.

The minister added that at present Pakistani market was one of the best performing markets in the world. Similarly, on May 27, the stock market had also set a new record touching the significant level of selling 2.21 billion shares.

Economic crisis

Responding to the minister’s tweets, PML-N secretary information Marriyum Aurangzeb in a statement challenged Prime Minister Khan to issue a comparison of economic indicators for the year 2018 and the present one. She said “the incompetent and lying PTI government” had destroyed the economy and now “shamelessly tweeted lies to cover up the disaster it had committed”.

“These lies won’t fix the economic crisis created by this government,” she added.

The PTI regime was still unable to even match the economic progress under PML-N government, she claimed.

Ms Aurangzeb, who had served as the information minister during the previous PML-N government, said the PML-N’s 5.8pc growth and three per cent inflation dwarfed PTI’s minus 0.4pc growth rate and 16pc inflation rate. In five years, she said, the PML-N had taken Rs10,000bn loans and completed countless development projects while the PTI took Rs15,000bn loan in just three years and did not complete a single project.

Ms Aurangzeb said under the PML-N, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had collected a record high Rs3,842bn in taxes while the PTI had had to revise its own targets three times for the first time in the country’s history.

“This PTI government didn’t even meet its current year’s target of Rs4,500bn tax collection. Who are they trying to fool by setting up a target of 5.8 trillion,” she asked.

“This government that came into power through lies and forgery is only surviving through lies and forgery,” she concluded.

Meanwhile, PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif directed the party’s Economic Advisory Council to expose the government’s dismal and disastrous economic performance. He said that the Economic Advisory Council of the party should review strategies to prevent the passage of “anti-people budget” by the PTI.

Mr Sharif told the members to highlight the serious crisis faced by the people of Pakistan due to the skyrocketing inflation, record unemployment and economic destruction of the country because of the PTI’s disastrous policies. He also asked them to also highlight the realities of constant intentional increase in prices of electricity, gas, medicine, treatment, education and essential commodities.

The PML-N president said this government might change the statistics by lying, but that won’t change the ground realities of the economy clearly visible to everyone.

The PML-N, he said, would not allow the demands of the IMF to be imposed on the people in the name of budget. He said every effort would be made to block the passage of the budget.

The virtual session was also attended by former finance minister Ishaq Dar.

The PML-N has also decided to arrange a pre-budget seminar on June 3.

Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2021

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