ISLAMABAD: Continuing its criticism of the relief measures announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan during his address to the nation on Monday, the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Tuesday claimed that the new announcements made by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government would bring more economic misery for the people and warned that soon there would be a fresh wave of price hike in the country.
Speaking at a news conference, PML-N’s vice chairman and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi claimed that in order to implement the latest measures, the government would have no other option but to obtain more foreign loans of up to Rs400 billion in the next four months, which would definitely put more burden on the people.
Flanked by party’s information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb and former finance minister Miftah Ismail, Mr Abbasi questioned the logic of the government’s decision to import wheat after making claims about bumper production of the commodity in the country.
The PML-N leader said the prime minister had stated in his speech that the government was planning to import two million tonnes of wheat from Russia whereas Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin had recently announced on the floor of the National Assembly that the country would have 27 million tonnes of wheat this year.
Mr Abbasi said the prime minister had made the speech “in panic” and had announced the so-called relief measures only to secure votes in the upcoming elections. He said this was the same PTI government which had got a budget approved in the National Assembly in June last year and then only a few weeks ago, it had presented a mini-budget imposing additional taxes of Rs750 billion on the people.
He said the measures announced by the prime minister in his speech were not mentioned in the federal budget or the mini-budget which meant that the government was now deviating from its earlier chalked out policy.
Mr Abbasi was of the view that whenever a government deviated from its track, it had negative effect on the economy.
“The government is bent upon further destroying the country’s economy. These steps will create more problems for the country as well as for the next government,” he said.
The PML-N leader said that only two weeks ago, the government ministers were not only justifying the increase in oil prices, but also warning about a further rise in the prices in the wake of increase in oil prices in the international market.
The ministers, he said, were telling the nation that they had no other option, but to do it as per the commitments they had made with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
He asked the finance minister to tell the nation if the government had decided to quit the IMF agreement.
Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2022