SBP autonomy to prevent probe into 'hot money scandals' in future: Ahsan Iqbal

Published November 25, 2021
PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal addresses a press conference in Lahore on Tuesday.
PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal addresses a press conference in Lahore on Tuesday.

PML-N's Member of National Assembly (MNA) Ahsan Iqbal hit out at the government on Thursday for "planning to give autonomy to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) under the IMF deal", claiming that such a move would prevent the central bank from probing hot money scandals that come to light in future.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore, Iqbal, who is also the general secretary of the PML-N and a former planning minister during the Nawaz Sharif government, said central banks across the world were given powers to regulate the economic sector and manage monetary policies.

But in Pakistan "the prospective changes will give the SBP governor the position of a viceroy who will not be answerable to any Pakistani institution but will be answerable to the IMF", he claimed.

Accusing the government of giving "NRO" (amnesty) to all its departments, the PML-N leader said incumbent rulers were ready to "give away Pakistan to anyone for a few pennies, as they did in the case of IMF".

"They have pasted a 'for sale' sticker on Pakistan's economy," Iqbal said.

The PML-N lawmaker also claimed that taxes worth more than Rs400 billion would be imposed on the masses under an upcoming mini-budget.

Similarly, he said, the development budget would also see a cut of Rs200bn, thus hurting economic growth and other ongoing projects, which he claimed would eventually become "sick projects".

He said a cut in funding would lead to cost overrun, delaying projects. "Hence the country will have to bear additional billions of rupees to complete those projects."

'Pakistan cheap country only for ministers'

Rebuking the government for inflation and repeated claims that commodities in Pakistan were cheaper than other countries in the region, the former planning minister said the country had become a paradise, but only for ministers.

"You have enough money to expand ministries, but you are short of money when it comes to giving relief to people."

He recalled that Pakistan was "flourishing" with a 5.8 per cent growth rate during the PML-N tenure. But, he added, Prime Minister Imran Khan had made the country "Karzistan" (indebted land) and put the future of the country's 220 million citizens at stake.

He claimed the SBP was now being placed out of parliament's control, adding that "money lenders may ask us next to stop our missile and nuclear programmes".

Govt days 'numbered'

Iqbal said the PTI government lacked experience and the people of the country were paying the price for that.

The PML-N leader said bad policies by the PTI government had turned Pakistan into heavily indebted nation, adding that the government's days were numbered.

"If Imran Khan has the courage to face reality, he should quit. This game is not meant for him. A leader who is continuously dividing the country, he is no less than any other external enemy," Iqbal alleged.

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