Muttehda Qaumi Movement leader, Dr.Farooq Sattar gestures during press conference at press club in Islamabad on Thursday. – Photo by PPI

ISLAMABAD: The Muttahida Quami Movement stepped up its opposition to the Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST) and flood surcharge on Thursday, terming the measures the last nail in the coffin of national economy.

Addressing a press conference at the National Press Club here, Dr Farooq Sattar, the MQM’s parliamentary leader in the National Assembly, accused mill-owners who belonged to both treasury and opposition benches for creating artificial shortage of sugar in the country and called for strict action against them.

He said if the government didn’t take concrete measures within three days to control sugar crisis, the party would launch a countrywide campaign against the price hike.

“Over 90 per cent sugar mills of the country belong to landlords, industrialists and politicians who control the commodity. It is quite surprising to see these owners shedding proverbial crocodile tears in the house for the poor people of Pakistan,” Mr Sattar said.

“One should ask the main opposition party, the PML-N, why its leaders are silent over the sugar crisis in the country,” Mr Sattar said, adding that everyone knew that a PML-N leader owned about 10 sugar mills. He didn’t name the PML-N leader, but said that everyone knew who he was.

Referring to a meeting an MQM delegation had held with federal finance and petroleum ministers, he said the government had assured the party it would review its decision on the RGST and flood tax.

However, Mr Sattar who himself is a federal minister, said in case the government went ahead with its plan, the MQM would oppose the move both within and outside the house with full force.

Asked if the MQM would leave the coalition in case the government didn’t change its position, Mr Sattar said that while remaining in the government, the MQM would oppose the move and if it was put to the vote, it would definitely go against it.

The MQM’s 25 votes in the National Assembly did not matter much, the thing which mattered, was its unequivocal stand on any given issue, he said.

He said the party believed that the new measures would push the inflation rate further up and result in almost 100 per cent price hike and therefore, it would never support them.

Instead of introducing reformed tax, he said, the government needed to reform PIA, Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Steel and other public sector entities, which were eating up over Rs400 billion a year, he said. The government should also put in order the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) which miserably failed in implementing the GST, and is now thoughtlessly calling for the RGST, the MQM minister said.

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