Islamabad - PML-N central leader and fomer Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said that the sounding of alarm bells regarding country’s economy by the government’s spokesperson on economic affairs should be a matter of grave concern for the parliament, institutions, government and the entire nation.

Addressing a press conference along with Musaddiq Malik and Marriyum Aurangzeb at the National Press Club on Thursday, he said that never before have such circumstances unfolded in the history of the country and the current government is responsible for this crisis. He was of the view that had the government decided to approach the IMF in September, this situation could have been averted. He suggested that the government should decide once and for all if it would seek IMF’s help or not and act upon it.

The economic uncertainty because of the government’s indecisiveness had led to decline of the economy and the financial debt is mounting, the economy is in tatters and the people are being burdened more every single day because of this incompetence by the PTI government, he said.

The government needs to stop slamming more taxes on the people because it discourages businesses and increases inflation, he said.

Shahid said that second mini-budget within five months is a testament to the government’s inability to run the country. The Rs1400 billion revenue shortfall and the stop-gap arrangement through the mini-budget will lead further taxation on the already crushed masses.

Referring to the interview of Farrukh Saleem, he said it was the first time that the economic matters of the country were so deplorable that the government’s own spokesperson on the matter expressed his grave concern and highlighted the government’s incapacity to handle the challenges.

If Farrukh Saleem was not given the portfolio he claimed, he must be held for impersonation which is a serious legal offence and a case must be registered in this regard, he demanded.

Abbasi said the country is faced with massive economic crisis and the government has no policy or roadmap to solve it other than adding more loans and terming it their success. He pointed out that although current account deficit had always been a challenge for Pakistan, however, this time round it had increased tremendously from $1.8 billion to $2 billion.

He said the government devalued the national currency by 30 percent to boost export revenue but the revenue has dipped even further by six and a half percent after this measure because of absence of comprehensive policy.

With these severe challenges faced by the country, it is the responsibility of a responsible opposition to bring to light this grave situation. He said the PMLN would continue to voice the blunders that affect the everyday lives of the people and would continue to worsen. He added the country’s foreign reserves are at their lowest point in a decade. 

Shahid pointed out that the budget deficit of the past five months is more than the budget deficit of the entire 2017.

He stated despite the entire austerity fiasco, development budget cuts and other measures, the government had failed to manage a single domain of the economy and the revenue collection is less than previous year and the tax to GDP ratio has dipped as well. FBR too has fallen short of Rs176 billion from its target, which will now be covered through more loans and consequent interest.

He pointed out that inflation has hit a decade high despite the fact crude oil prices in the international market fell by 30 percent which is the most major expenditure of the government.

“The government had pointed out that total deficit was $12 billion. At the same time, the government has boasted that it received $3 billion from Saudi Arabia, $3 billion from UAE, $2 billion from China while oil worth of $3 billion was given as loan which adds up to $11 billion dollar. Keeping in view the global decrease in oil prices and the decrease in national consumption there is another saving coefficient of $4 billion which makes the total at $14 billion in foreign exchange reserves. If the debt was projected at $ 12 billion and the government has managed $14 billion it is incomprehensible as to why is the country in financial crisis”, questioned Khaqan.

The growth rate for this year under the performance of PML-N government was projected at 6.2 but because of the PTI government’s incompetence it is being measured somewhere close to 3 percent. This will result in a loss of Rs1,400 billion to the country which the poor people of Pakistan would shoulder. “This is not something that can be casually overlooked. The policy rate has jumped from 6.2 to 10 percent which means another Rs 400 billion in debt which will render major businesses unviable”, he stressed.

The government hasn’t even paid the tax rebates and refunds which is further rolling businesses downhill, he added.

“All this instability, crash of stock market and losses is business sis because of the uncertainty created by PTI’s indecision and incompetence. The current crisis can only be handled if the Prime Minister, Information Minister and Finance Minister learn to keep their mouth shut, or at least stop their insane lying spree,” slammed Shahid.

Abbasi said under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan not only fulfilled its IMF debt obligation but also managed to boost the country’s growth rate. That is why locally, regionally and internationally the tenure of PML-N was being lauded by all and people and leaders alike are reminiscing over it.