Shehbaz assails govt’s economic performance in NA Says country being pawned away for mere $1bn

Ijaz Kakakhel

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday took the government to task over its economic performance and claimed that the country’s economy was being pawned away for $1 billion and also claimed that the mini-budget will bind our feet.

Speaking on the floor of national assembly, the PML-N president said that with the budget, our feet will be tied with shackles.

“The finance minister had said that Imran Niazi would stand firm in front of the IMF,” he said. The PML-N president said that the government has introduced mini-budget after seven months and taxes are being increased, adding that one thing that the PTI government has mastered is U-turn.

He said the PTI government is now imposing 350 billion taxes on the people already suffering from inflation. He said that when Asad Umar was the finance minister, he imposed taxes of Rs 400 billion in the budget, while the duo of Shabar Zaidi and Hafeez Sheikh imposed taxes of Rs 700 billion and now Shaukat Tarin has come up with another Rs 350 billion tax mini-budget. “Statistics show that imports will be the highest this year,” he said.

The PML-N president said that $1 billion can be arranged mutually, “let’s talk about this issue in the House.” If the government decides to stand against the IMF in the public interest the Opposition will support it, Shahbaz said.

The Opposition is ready to support the government if it rejects the conditions put forth by the Fund, he added.

Shahbaz underlined that Pakistan is currently one of the most expensive countries of the world. Highlighting the “unnecessary taxes” in the supplementary finance bill, he said that countries are reducing taxes while the PTI government is imposing additional taxes. He regretted that general sales tax is being imposed on children’s milk even. The Opposition cooperated with the ruling PTI government for removal from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list.

However, “we were called thieves,” the Opposition leader lamented. The PML-N leader told the House that it “wasn’t former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif or Shahid Khaqan Abbasi who stood on the container and said that if the power tariff is increased, then the prime minister of that time is a thief”. “This was said the current Prime Minister Imran Khan,” he said.

Shahbaz highlighted that the government has proposed taxes on the export of machinery for charitable hospitals along with increasing taxes on exports of equipment used for treatment of TB and cancer patients.

He added that in the supplementary finance bill, the government has also proposed an increase in taxes on the export of raw material required for the production of medicines, “which will eventually increase the price of medicines in the country”. Shedding light on the agriculture sector, the Opposition leader said that Pakistan was self-sufficient in agricultural produce a few years back, however, because of the incumbent government, the country now has to import wheat and sugar.

Recalling the time when PML-N was in power, he said that during their tenure, the price of urea was Rs1,200 and today the price is around Rs3,700.

Meanwhile, the price of DAP during PML-N’s tenure was Rs2,400, while currently the price is around Rs9,500, that too in the black market. “Agriculture, industry, businesses and the common man, all are in a terrible state,” Shahbaz said.


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