ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR: Former finance minister Shaukat Tarin has demanded the resignation of incumbent finance czar Ishaq Dar for pushing Pakistan to the “brink of default” and causing “immeasurable sufferings” to the masses through his imprudent economic policies.
Responding to the presser addressed by the finance minister on Friday, Senator Tarin, in a statement, rejected the claims made by Senator Dar regarding the state of the economy and said that his party had hoped that Ishaq Dar “will do the honourable thing and hand over his resignation for misleading the nation”.
“On the day [Friday], the exchange rate posted another record low of 262 to the US dollar, there were no clarifications from Mr Dar, who used to boast that he will bring the dollar rate to below 200. The epic failure of his ‘dollar peg’ policy showcased again why we believe he is unfit for this job, with a complete lack of basic understanding of markets and economic policy,” Mr Tarin said while chiding the PML-N leader.
The central bank reserves have fallen to $3.7bn as of Jan 20 which is hardly three weeks of import cover, the senator said, adding that the economy is on the brink of a default with a seven per cent decline in exports, 11pc in remittances, and 59pc in foreign direct investment.
“It is not just the PTI… even our bilateral and multilateral development partners…have refused to provide financial assistance to the failed policies of the PDM government,” the PTI leader claimed. He added that PML-N members, particularly ex-finance minister Miftah Ismail, also criticised Ishaq Dar which caused a “big loss” to the country.
KP’s ex-finance minister warns against ‘playing with economy, democracy’
Claiming Mr Dar has a “poor understanding of economic policymaking”, the PTI leader claimed that during the 2013-2018 period, the economy paid a heavy price because of the ‘dollar peg’ with exports plummeting from $ 24.8bn in 2013 to $ 22bn in 2017.
“In 2022, the same experiment by Ishaq Dar resulted in the exports declining by 7pc. This clearly shows that Ishaq Dar has not learned any lessons from past mistakes and is unfit for this job,” he added.
To hide his colossal failures, Ishaq Dar likes to throw around random numbers and desperately spin fairy tales, the senator claimed while referring to the day-old presser of the finance minister. “In yesterday’s press conference, the finance minister spun a fairy tale of Pakistan becoming the 24th biggest economy in the world under his capable leadership in 2018. Subsequently, he claimed that the economy had shrunk to become the 47th largest economy in the world by 2022. This is not the first time Ishaq Dar has thrown these bizarre statistics in public,” the PTI senator went on to add.
According to Mr Tarin, the economy has nose-dived and SBP now estimates that GDP growth will slow down to just 2pc in the current year, compared to 6pc under the PTI government.
Due to the draconian tax measures and the restrictions on imports, the manufacturing sector output in the first five months posted a -3.6pc contraction, he said, adding that Dr Hafiz Pasha “forecasts negative -1pc GDP growth in FY23”.
“Not only the economy will not create job opportunities for 2 million youth entering the workforce every year, but according to various estimates nearly 10 million workers are at risk of being laid off,” he said.
‘Date for general elections’
Meanwhile, PTI’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter demanded the government announce the date for general elections to put “an end to economic meltdown”. “I was stunned when the KP governor indicated in a chat with the journalists that it was not his job to announce elections,” ex-KP finance minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra said during a press conference in Peshawar.
“Whoever is taking the current decisions, [they] should not play with Pakistan’s democracy and economy, Mr Jhagra said. Speaking at a press conference, PTI’s provincial information secretary Shaukat Yousafzai said that general elections were the need of the hour to stop the deterioration of “economy and law and order”.
“Delaying elections means prolonging the economic and democratic issues,” he said, adding that the “unrealistic economic policies” of the federal government “depreciated” the Pakistani rupee in the previous two days.
PTI Central Secretary Information Farrukh Habib while reacting to the KP governor’s statement that the decision of the election would be made by the establishment and the Election Commission said that the silence of the abovementioned stakeholders has raised many an eyebrow.
Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2023
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