KARACHI: Former finance minister and Senator of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Shaukat Tarin has claimed that the PML-N-led coalition government had sought his expertise to lift the crumbling economy, but he refused to do so until a caretaker setup is installed and fresh elections are announced by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

“Yes they [the current government leaders] did,” said Mr Tarin when asked during a press conference on Sunday whether any request had been made by the leaders of the new coalition government for help to boost the economy.

PTI spokesman on financial and economic affairs Muzammil Aslam accompanied Mr Tarin.

“But I have made it very clear that I cannot do that. We believe that the time has come for fresh elections and if elections are called immediately and a caretaker setup is put in place, I will be there for any help,” the former finance minister said.

He said the new government had lost credibility and that its “failure” had dented the scope of any successful talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Mr Tarin dismissed claims of the PML-N-led coalition government that the PTI government had “backed out” of its commitment that it made with the IMF.

“This isn’t true,” the PTI leader said. “We in fact renegotiated the deal. This all is on record. The fact is that the IMF is no more willing to trust the new coalition government and that is the reason now they [the coalition government leaders] are making false excuses and seeking others’ help,” Mr Tarin said.

He then referred to the data shared by the Federal Bureau of Statistics that he said had “proved” economic “achievements” of the PTI government as exports of the country during Mr Khan’s government had reached $32 billion while they were $24bn during the 2013 to 2018 rule of the PML-N government.

He demanded a “strong and competent” caretaker setup to address economic woes and to hold general elections in the country.

The two key leaders of the PTI government’s economic team also raised questions over the capacity and decision-making strength of the new government, terming these to be “disastrous” and a “source of decline” for the country’s financial status.

The steep fall of rupee, consistent instability in the capital markets and growing pressure on the business community would finally lead to negative growth rate by the end of current financial year, he said.

The PTI leaders also criticised the government’s recent decision to remove top officials of key national institutions and said this showed the government’s incompetence and its old policy of rewarding the “blue eyed officers”.

“In just a few weeks of this government, we have seen chief of Wapda [Water and Power Development Authority] and senior officials of FBR [Federal Board of Revenue] and Planning Division being removed. Is this the way to revive the economy?” Mr Aslam asked.

“The matter doesn’t end here. The list of top officials resigning from their posts is getting longer and transfers and postings of senior officers are also taking place. This all reflects indecision and non-existence of any plan by the coalition government to lift up the falling economy,” he said.

The PTI economic expert also questioned the forecast of the government which mentioned the GDP growth of four per cent while the National Accounts Committee had predicted the growth rate to be higher.

“The growth rate is expected to touch six per cent this fiscal. The last financial year ended with 5.7pc,” said Mr Aslam.

“It was Imran Khan’s government which started turning around the economy. This whole achievement and growth of economy was undermined by the no-confidence movement,” the PTI leader said.

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2022

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