Marriyum: Measures aim at reducing reliance on imports, to promote local industry; Steps being taken to improve energy situation
Ijaz Kakakhel Islamabad
To strengthen the economy, stop devaluation of rupee and to deal with the current economic turmoil, the government on Thursday imposed a ban on import of non-essential and luxury items under an “emergency economic plan”.
The plan would help the government to reduce country’s reliance on imports, said Federal Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb addressing a press conference here.
She said luxury imported items, including vehicles, mobile phones, home appliances, dry and fresh fruits, crockery, private weapons, decoration items, preserved and frozen food items, sanitary ware, doors and windows, beauty and confectionary items, cars, shoes, sauces, carpets, tissue paper, furniture, make-up, chocolates, shampoos, sunglasses, cigarettes and musical instruments.
She said that the country’s economy has been ruined during the past four years and the rupee depreciated all-time low to Rs189 during the four years of imported government, imported advisers and spokespersons.
The minister said the government was working on an emergency fiscal plan and economic management and annual impact of these steps will be around $6 billion. She said it will also help reduce Current Account Deficit. The information minister said that the prime objective of these measures were aimed at reducing reliance on imports and introduce export-oriented policy to promote local industry in the country. She said a plan was also being prepared to promote local manufacturers so that people will be provided employment opportunities.
The minister said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is making serious efforts to provide relief to the common people. She said those, who were questioning the performance of a four-week government, should be ashamed of this approach.
She said the dollar rate was Rs115 when PML-N left the government, while the last government of PTI took this price to Rs189. She said it was former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who successfully completed the IMF program in 2015 and included Pakistan in global emerging markets. She said the last government gave unfunded subsidy on petroleum products to paralyze Pakistan’s economy. “This is an emergency situation and Pakistanis will have to make sacrifices under the economic plan,” she said. “PM Shehbaz has been working day and night for the best of Pakistan and had decided to ban the imports of all items that were not in use of masses,” she added. “The ‘tough decisions’ was taken by the prime minister to stabilise the economy,” she maintained. The information minister said the announcement was part of the fiscal plan devised by the current government to overcome the PTI’s “incompetent” policies.
Berating the PTI for calling out the incumbent government on the economic turmoil, Aurangzeb said the Imran Khan-led government hiked inflation, took historic loans, committed “economic terrorism”, and played with the country’s economy by subsidizing petroleum prices.
The information minister noted that the PTI government went against the agreement it had made with the International Monetary Fund by subsidizing the price of petroleum products. “Now, we cannot come out of the conditions put forth by the IMF for Pakistan. But despite that, instead of shifting the burden of conspirators on Pakistanis, the PML-N and its allies do not plan on doing this as it has never been their manifesto,” she said.
Responding to the PTI and Imran Khan’s repeated demands of snap polls, Aurangzeb said it is the government’s job to conduct elections across the country, whether the party “cries or shouts”.
“If PTI’s objective was to conduct snap polls, they would have done it during their tenure and dissolved the assemblies. Aurangzeb said the government will hold elections “when it wishes to”.
The information minister, in response to Khan’s question of why did courts open at midnight, said the courts had opened their doors to stop a person from violating the constitution. She said the previous government did not have a plan and would abuse the institutions. “But this government will take the country out of the crisis.”
The minister said PM Shehbaz, unlike Khan, looks at the price of sugar, wheat, and tomatoes before going to sleep and was constantly planning on ways to provide relief to the people.
Marriyum Aurangzeb said the government was also taking measures to improve energy situation in the country.
“We will practice austerity and financially stronger people must lead in this effort so that the less privileged among us do not have to bear this burden inflicted on them by the PTI government,” he said, adding that the nation would overcome these challenges with “resolve and determination”.
The information minister assured the nation that PM Shehbaz was “working day and night to stabilise the economy”. Aurangzeb said that in light of this, it was decided to impose a ban on the import of all non-essential luxury items. “These items are those which are not in use of the general public,” she said as she identified imported vehicles as one such item.
She declared that it was “an emergency situation” and Pakistanis would have to make sacrifices under the economic plan, adding that the impact of this measures would be around $6 billion.