ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Shaukat Tarin has said that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar lacks an understanding of the economy and is unfit for the job.
In a rejoinder issued to Mr Dar’s presser held on Jan 4 in response to the PTI’s white paper on the country’s economic situation, Mr Tarin said: “Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s press conference on Jan 4 was an attempt to divert attention from the miseries inflicted by the [Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)] imported regime on 220 million Pakistanis.”
He claimed all the numbers mentioned in the white paper were based on actual data from the Economic Survey, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff reports.
“Real focus is on the mess that we inherited and how we turned around the economy with a stellar six per cent growth over two consecutive years despite the Covid pandemic,” Mr Tarin added, and said the PDM government had failed to present a roadmap for the economy, increasing SBP reserves and avoiding a default on external debt payments.
Ex-minister says all numbers in document based on data from Economic Survey, SBP, IMF reports
He castigated the finance minister for failing to present solutions to address record high inflation faced by the masses, claiming that potentially four to five million people risked unemployment owing to the failed policies of the incumbent government.
In comparison, under the PTI government, an average of 1.8m jobs were created every year, he claimed.
The former minister maintained the SBP reserves under the PDM government had declined sharply to only $5.8 billion in December, only enough to cover a month of imports. There was no clarity on resumption of the IMF programme and financial assistance from friendly countries.
“How is it possible that the government has funds to run a jumbo-sized federal cabinet of 76 ministers, but no money to provide relief to the people?” Mr Tarin questioned.
Even former finance minister Miftah Ismail and other PML-N members were critical of Mr Dar’s policies, Tarin remarked, adding that in former prime minister Imran Khan’s government the economy was growing at 6pc for the second consecutive year with record exports, large-scale manufacturing and agricultural output.
However, under the PDM government, the economy had nose-dived and the SBP now estimated the GDP growth to slow down to just 2pc in the new year due to the “draconian” tax measures and import restrictions.
The former finance czar also blamed the government for effectively causing a shutdown of the economy. “From textile mills to automobile manufacturers, all are reporting a shutdown in factories and massive layoff of labour,” he commented.
“The PDM regime has not only rolled back some of the reforms we undertook, but has further burdened the taxpayers through exorbitant taxation measures,” he added.
Regarding the private sector credit, Tarin added that under the previous PTI government, credit to the private sector grew by Rs1.6 trillion in the last fiscal year, which he claimed was the highest-ever increase recorded. Under the PDM government, however, that growth had slowed down sharply with the loans taken by the private sector declining to Rs260bn during July to Dec FY23, compared to Rs600bn in the same period last year, he stated.
He also talked about how the current account deficit, exports, foreign direct investment, and circular debt of the power sector performed better during the PTI government than in the current set-up.
Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2023