While sitting in the press gallery, it was just not possible to fathom even one sentence of the long speech that Finance Minister was delivering from the floor of the National Assembly Wednesday.

Moving to the press lounge didn’t help either. Asad Umer’s voice seemed to have been totally lost to nonstop heckling, spirited sloganeering and ferocious desk thumping from the opposition benches.

The diligent efforts by Pervez Khattak and Shah Mehmud Qureshi to manage calm on this day through backdoor pleading have obviously failed to deliver. The recently adopted “code of conduct” didn’t appear functioning either.

Still, the two dovish ministers should feel good for the fact that no opposition member left his or her seat to stage a shouting picket before the prime ministerial seat. The hardcore loyalists of Imran Khan did not need to erect a human wall around him as well. And the PPP MNAs also acted soft.

Returning to the House after a long gap of more than three months, the Prime Minister rather looked amused over the noisy show of the opposition.

There, however, were fleeting moments when the Prime Minister needed to abruptly clasp hands to overcome the anger that might have been building in his heart.

What the Finance Minister presented Wednesday was officially described as “Finance Supplementary (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019.” If you go by the book, it should thus be called a “mini-budget.”

At the outset of his speech, however, Umer stated with a straight face that instead of presenting a ‘mini-budget,’ he was about to introduce a package of “reforms” aimed at reviving our economy.

To be fair, the opening and operative parts of his speech were devoted to explain multiple incentives, specifically designed to inject energy in sluggish looking scene of these days. But as an economic illiterate, I have no competence to judge them.

His second attempt to revising the budget, he had inherited after taking charge of Finance Ministry in August 2018, clearly confirmed the doom and gloom stories. Although he kept repeatedly asserting that five months of the PTI government had pulled our economy out of the ICU. It was time to help it walk by introducing incentives.

Saying this, he conveniently forgot to admit that top movers and shakers of our economy had not been feeling too good and comfortable with his conduct so far.

Finally, the Chief of Army Staff, felt compelled to listen to their grievances with concern. Only after General Bajwa’s exhaustive interaction with top businesspersons, Umer decided to meet them.

Asad Umer had switched to fulltime politics after spending years in holding top executive positions at some high profile companies.

He should have instinctively discovered what was causing doom and gloom on our business front. The ‘reform package’ that had launched Wednesday could thus not be considered as a product created, exclusively by his fertile mind. He would rather appear to have been forced to think about it.

Apparently, the Finance Minister’s new package denied speculations that the PTI government was forced to introduce its “second budget” to collect a colossal amount of around 190 billion rupees by increasing or introducing new taxes on multiple items of daily use. How to bridge the frighteningly widening gap between revenues and government expenses remains the question, though, even after his lengthy speech Wednesday.

One thing, however, looked certain: The PTI government feels confident that it does not need to approach the IMF to seek any bailout package.

If my reading of his speech is correct, then the said decision certainly looks daring. Asad Umer will definitely create history of sorts by not rushing to the IMF like his predecessors, when feeling stuck in dire straits.

Asad Umer had a long meeting with a large group of PTI MNAs around ten days ago. His comprehensive briefing to that group did not get appropriate space in our media.

But I have it from five participants of the said meeting that while talking to this group, the Finance Minister had candidly admitted that before agreeing to seriously discuss a bailout package with Pakistan, the IMF was pressing for “some very tough conditions.”

He was also reported to have stressed that if Pakistan accepted those conditions, “within the next three to four months” our people will face an unbearable avalanche of inflation. There also were fears that the PTI government might not be able to survive the blowback of it.

One participant of the said meeting also told me that the Finance Minister had also talked of certain “issues of national security” while talking about the IMF-furnished conditions. No other source has yet confirmed it, though.

Through his speech Wednesday, the Finance Minister could have dropped substantive hints to “conditions,” presumably put by the IMF. Seriously wonder why he preferred otherwise.

One can only presume that while eluding the IMF, Asad Umer has dared to pamper and encourage our entrepreneurs to step forward with more investments in diverse sectors. It is too early to predict whether they will live up to his dream.