During election campaign, Mian Nawaz Sharif pledged to break the ongoing trend of going to the IMF and emancipate the country from debt trap, besides abolishing VIP culture, if voted into power. After assuming power as a third time minister, his Finance Minister portrayed a dismal picture of Pakistan’s economy. He explained that 500 billion were needed to clear our circular debt, rupees one trillion for debt servicing while national exchequer was empty.

The total national debt rose to 12 trillion. The new government somehow managed to pay circular debt and some relief in loadshedding was provided to people in the month of Ramadan. But the monster of power outages again raised its head. My first question here is was the PM so unaware of ground reality before the elections? Under the 18 Amendment he was responsible for his province and could have taken steps to curtail the monster of energy but he did nothing?

Instead of introducing a well thought out and deliberate economic plan, the Finance Minister contends that a levy on gas is the first step towards reformation of a tax reform system, instead of bringing in large sharks who have evaded the tax net; the poor were once again taxed. Ironically, he took pride in persuading IMF to grant a new loan on his terms.

Continuous increase in expenditure without plugging the leaks in the national kitty is a recipe for a total economic collapse. Herculean efforts are needed to solve the challenges faced by the country. Therefore, the PM with a long 30 years experience as minister, finance minister, chief minister and prime minister is expected to carve a new long-term strategy based on sound footing for economic recovery and its gradual growth for welfare and uplift of downtrodden who suffer under heavy burden of poverty, price hike and inflation etc.

The PM needs to work realistically on bridging the wide gap between the rich and poor as his survival will depend on his policies and whether he is able to control the growing inflation.

RAJA SHAFAATULLAH,

Islamabad, September 9.