ISLAMABAD, Aug 24: The Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf unveiled on Friday its ‘economic plan’ and said it would mainly focus on doubling the growth rate through investment, trade-driven growth strategy, tax reforms, breaking of cartels and introducing drastic changes in state-run corporations.

But the plan does not say what the party will do about the burgeoning Rs1,200 trillion internal and external loans, almost 60 per cent of national economy.

It is also silent on important issues like land reforms and massive defence expenditures.

Addressing a seminar on ‘PTI Economic Policy’, the party’s chairman Imran Khan claimed that over 10 million people had joined the party during its membership drive and that the number was more than the combined votes bank of the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-N.

He said his party wanted to open trade corridors for all countries, including India, but not for Israel because it was involved in coercive actions against Palestinians.

Senior party leaders Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Shafqat Mehmood, economic experts and media personnel attended the seminar.

Presenting the plan, PTI’s vice-president Asad Umar blamed the PPP-led coalition government for the economic crisis and said the country could achieve only three per cent growth over the past five years because of bad governance and incompetence.

The five-point emergency programme includes reforms in energy, expenditures, taxation, industrial and education and health sectors. The energy reforms will focus on reducing the cost of electricity generation through indigenous resources; expenditure reforms aim at shutting down the PM, CM and governor’s houses, slashing budget and reducing the number of ministries to 17; tax reforms will make taxes just and equitable, introduce agricultural tax and revamp the Federal Bureau of Revenue; institutional reforms will focus on empowering and depoliticising institutions; and education and health reforms aim at increasing their budget allocation five to six times.

“Apart from doubling the tax-to-GDP ratio to 18 per cent from 9.1 per cent, the PTI will also stress on cutting the cost of non-development entities through austerity measures and converting big government houses into playgrounds and educational institutions,” Imran Khan said.

“I have people of integrity and courage who can take difficult decisions and implement them bravely. This team will take on mafias, cartels and wrongdoers when the party comes to power. We have to make a new Pakistan by taking steps that we have planned and if we fail to implement our vision we will not accept power and return to people for a fresh mandate,” he said.

Mr Khan said the PTI was the only party which had decided to hold intra-party polls before general elections and also made it mandatory for its leaders intending to contest the next polls to place their assets and income tax returns on website.

He said the law and order situation was not conducive to foreign investment which could be attracted only by sensibly dealing with the war on terror. He said Pakistan was on top of the list of countries whose people gave charity, but the lowest in payment of taxes because of lack of trust in the government. He said his party would rebuild this trust and persuade people to pay taxes by reassuring them that their money would not be squandered.

“The biggest ‘qabza’ group is sitting in the assemblies and we need to take on mafias. Otherwise, we cannot tackle the sinking economy,” Mr Khan said.

Answering a question about his party’s policy on population control, he said: “Our stress on female education is to encourage women empowerment which will automatically lead to sensitisation about population explosion.”

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