Govt stops funds for development projects to finance budget deficit

Published May 27, 2022
Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal addresses a press conference on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV
Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal addresses a press conference on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: The government has stopped disbursing funds to development projects to finance a massive budget deficit and is contemplating detailed briefings to top judiciary, military and business leadership for economic and financial stocktaking before taking harsh decisions for correcting past four years’ “economic mismanagement”.

“We can take the country out of trouble but don’t put the burden of Imran Khan’s four years of economic mismanagement on our shoulders in one year. We will become zero if we are held accountable for his failures,” Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal told a news conference.

He said the cost of “destructive policies” of the PTI government was unprecedented in the 75 year history of the country and its burden had reached a stage that for the first time the ministry of finance had made zero financial allocation for the development programme for the full last quarter of the fiscal year to control the record deficit.

“Pakistan has never seen release of zero funds in the final quarter,” the minister said, adding that the Rs900 billion Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) had thus been frozen at Rs480bn.

Minister says top judiciary, military and business leaders to be briefed on ‘economic mess’ created by PTI govt

Mr Iqbal said he had advised the prime minister to arrange a detailed briefing by the secretary of finance to the Supreme Court, the GHQ, and the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on what mess the Imran Khan government had left behind.

He said the economic downfall was unprecedented but not completely unmanageable. This would have become completely unmanageable had Mr Khan’s government remained in the office for another year.

“Pakistan will not be allowed to default even though Imran Khan had not left any stone unturned in this regard and his ministers and FBR chiefs were clearly talking about the looming default and took a sigh of relief on the success of vote of no-confidence against the former prime minister,” the PML-N leader said.

The minister said that it was unfortunate that the former prime minister had been given complete support by all institutions for four years for doing nothing and now he had nothing to take credit for, not even a single development project that his government may have conceived and completed and yet the man was getting full respect from the judiciary even now.

“Mr Khan increased the country’s debt and compromised the country’s sovereignty and is now trying to create conflict in society and armed forces through fake news as part of international hybrid warfare,” the minister said.

He said that a sustainable route to the GDP growth required export-led growth to leapfrog and stop bleeding of over Rs500bn in state-owned entities and over Rs2.5 trillion of circular debt left by the PTI government for which now a national charter of economy was required.

Mr Iqbal said the PTI government also destroyed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project as Gwadar Port authorities had been seeking funds for dredging of the port as its depth had now come down to 11 metres from over 14 metres. But the PTI government did not release the funds which led to a situation that now no ship could anchor at Gwadar.

“This is criminal and treacherous act on the part of the former government,” the minister said.

He said that under CPEC, a total of nine special economic zones had to be developed between 2020 and 2025, but not a single zone could be completed over the past four years and no work actually took place on five other zones.

“No international investor could wait for an incompetent government and, therefore, the foreign investment moved to other countries and the country lost $30-40bn.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2022

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