LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan on Tuesday said after returning to power, the PTI would create a federal ministry to boost the dollar income and a separate set-up planning and looking for venues to generate greenbacks so that perennial problems can be sorted out.

Addressing a webinar, with a rather extended title — From Crisis to Catastrophe: Budget 2023-24 and Plight of Common Pakistan Amidst Economic Tailspin — Mr Khan insisted that the current crisis, as all such situations, also offers an opportunity for surgical economic and governance reforms.

“Most of our first tenure was spent saving our majority in a tricky coalition that neither allowed any economic nor governance reforms. Once back in power with better numbers, the PTI plans to get dollar income solve by investment through non-resident Pakistanis, clip exceptionally bloated set-up of governance as short-term measures and promote investment and business as mid-term solutions.

The PTI also promises to get out of the election-to-election planning model and go for all long-term measures required to set economy on the track, which includes agriculture reforms, building dams, deal with the climate crisis. All these issues are on the party’s planning radar and strategies are being prepared,” he told his party men, which included vice-chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Shaukat Tareen, Sania Nishtar, Hammad Azhar and Hamayun Akhtar Khan.

PTI webinar discusses moves to revive economy

Moderated by Muzzammil Aslam, Mr Tareen, former finance minister, elaborated how his party plans to ensure six to eight per cent growth of GDP for the next 10 years, 4-5pc for agriculture and 10pc per annum industrial expansion. During the same period, the tax-to-GDP ratio will be taken from 9pc to 20pc and the savings rate from 14pc to 30pc in a decade.

Instead of the current strategy of a loan-driven economy, the PTI will devise trade-driven growth. A National Assets Management organisation and Debt Sustainability Analysis, debt re-profiling and IMF packages are also part of party planning, Mr Tareen claimed – sounding impervious, as his chairman, to legal and political crisis that his party seems to be facing.

Vice-Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi feared that the current budget would be renegotiated at least twice this year: first by the caretakers and then by the next government. Unable to meet the unrealistic targets, both of them would take it back to the IMF and seek relief – further eating into the national credibility. The PDM government came to power claiming that it would sacrifice its politics at the altar of the economy.

Hammad Azhar, former finance minister, said the PDM has damaged the country by $7bn in export losses and cumulated an equal amount in dues that multinationals are waiting to be sent abroad in the shape of profits and other payments. How does the government plan to meet these obligations, with less than $4bn reserves? The finance bill is a pack of contradictory claims, where no figure squares up with other claims. After servicing its debts with Rs7,300bn, which experts believe would cost over Rs800bn — the entire income of the government — how would it finance the rest of Rs7,000bn expenditure?

In an economy, which, as believed by experts, has contracted by 3-4pc in the outgoing fiscal year, with inflation running at 38pc, unemployment out of control and

large-scale manufacturing dropping to a historic low, how the government plans to sustain these targets, the finance bill is silent and so the author of the bill, Mr Hammad claimed.

SBP former governor Saleem Raza, economist Saqib Shirani and a few others also spoke in the 150-minute webinar, which the Chairman PTI promised to hold regularly to keep the economy in the sphere of public debate.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2023

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