Shehbaz gathers allies to ‘repair cracks’

Published June 28, 2022
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif meets National Assembly members on Monday. — PML-N/Twitter
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif meets National Assembly members on Monday. — PML-N/Twitter

ISLAMABAD: As some cracks reportedly started appearing in the ruling coalition, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday gathered his allies in a bid to keep them united on important decisions for stabilising the crippling economy, and hoped for “better days to come”.

The prime minister hosted a dinner for leaders of all the coalition parties at the Prime Minister House wherein he vowed to jointly lift the country from the unprecedented economic decline and political instability.

The coalition government was formed on April 10 when the parties, which were then in the opposition, had managed to topple the previous Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) regime through a no-confidence resolution in the National Assembly.

“The coalition will definitely bring a change in its 14-month rule. We will work with determination to transform the country into Quaid-i-Azam’s Pakistan,” he vowed.

Interestingly, some leaders of the allied parties in the National Assembly on Monday criticised the government’s decisions and claimed they were not being taken on board in important decision making.

On the one hand, PM Sharif gave hope to the people of “good days”, while on the other he hinted at no immediate relief to the inflation-hit masses. He revealed that electricity loadshedding will increase in July since the government could not import liquefied natural gas (LNG) for power generation as European countries had already purchased LNG cargoes due to the global oil crisis.

Read more: LNG crisis

He also claimed that the government had saved the country from bankruptcy that it inherited from the last PTI regime, adding now the coalition government was entering into a fresh agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“The PTI government had violated the agreement it had inked with the IMF, therefore the Fund has now set tough conditions for us,” he added.

The prime minister said the government had imposed heavy taxes on the net income of well-off people to evade bankruptcy. “We imposed direct taxes on the net income of the rich so that its impact is not shifted downwards. We hope to generate an additional Rs200 billion annually this way,” he remarked.

Mr Sharif claimed to have made a big achievement by paving the way for import of cheaper coal from Afghanistan for the industrial sector and power generation. “We will save $2 billion annually by importing coal from Afghanistan instead of South Africa. The quality of Afghan coal is as good as the one being imported from South Africa. We were thinking of options to stabilise our economy and Allah Almighty showed us a way,” he added.

Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2022

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