ISLAMABAD  -     The government on Friday again came under fire in the Senate as former chairman Senate and PPP Senator Raza Rabbani claimed that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was dictating budget to the PTI-led government for the next fiscal year.

Taking part in the discussion on an adjournment motion on the recent increase in the prices of petroleum products, he said that the present government had outsourced country’s economic management to the international lender following the appointment of advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance and Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

He said that the previous governments had also been approaching the IMF but the nature of agreements had never been like a sell-out nature. “This is because it never happened that finance minister replaces IMF’s man and a serving official of the IMF is appointed as governor State Bank,” he said pointing out appointments of Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and Dr Reza Baqir.

Rabbani said it was clear that economic policy of the country was not in the hands of civilian government as IMF would finalize the financial budget for the next financial year. He said it was heard that the government on IMF’s condition has agreed to further increase gas and electricity prices. He said it was also heard that the IMF was seeking withdrawal of Rs700 billion tax exemptions. He also criticized PM’s Advisor on Finance Abdul Hafeez Sheikh for putting Pakistan Steel Mills on the list of privatization of entities.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Azam Swati, however, said the PSM was not being privatized.

The PPP stalwart went on to say that appointment of new chairman of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) was a clear case of clash of interest, as he will be dealing with the business houses he used to provide consultancy as partner in chartered accounting firm A.F. Ferguson. He also said that appointment of Syed Shabbar Zaidi as chairman FBR on honorary basis meant that he would not be able to exercise powers of his position and his deputy would do the same.

PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi, one of the movers of themotion, said the government continued to drop bombs on the people contrary to the false claims made by it prior to polls. The government has dropped another bomb in the form of petroleum prices ahead of holy month of Ramazan, he said. He said increase in petroleum prices led to surge in prices of all essential commodities and affected all sectors. He said the government had earlier enhanced gas prices by 143 percent and medicines by 300 to 600 percent. He said the government also conceded to have sent inflated gas bills to 3.3 million consumers.

PPP parliamentary leader in the house Senator Sherry Rehman criticized the government for unprecedented price hike and said there were rumours about a possible imposition of petroleum development levy.

She said that government had borrowed Rs 3000 billion during its first nine months. “More 4 million people had gone below the poverty line ahead of Ramazan,” she deplored.