ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan has criticised the economic policies and priorities of the PML-N government and stated that the second big devaluation in a few months will increase the cost of living for the common man.
Addressing a news conference in the capital on Thursday, the PTI chief said due to flawed economic policies the cost of petrol, diesel, LNG, cooking oil, electricity, transportation, imported fertilizers and seeds, and many other items of use by the people would increase manifold.
“This recurring devaluation is the result of the disastrous economic policies implemented by Nawaz Sharif and Ishaq Dar over the last 4 years,” he said.
The government has levied heavy taxes and surcharges on gas and electricity, making both those inputs more expensive in the region for Pakistani exports, he added.
Khan further said that the result of such policies was that for the first time in the Pakistani history, the exports were lower than what they were five years back while the imports have increased to a record level, resulting in record trade deficits.
Last year trade deficit was $33 billion, he said and added this year it was running even at a higher pace.
Senior PTI leader Asad Umar stated that the government tried to make up the deficit by going on a record borrowing spree.
“During the current year, our external debt burden is increasing at an average of $1 billion per month,” he said, adding, “Despite this massive borrowing the foreign exchange reserves have declined by $4 billion during the current fiscal year, hitting dangerously low levels.”
According to the IMF, he said, the net foreign exchange reserves of Pakistan which were at $7.5 billion in September 2016 when the IMF programme ended were minus $724 million last month and have declined further since.
Umar said, “The complete failure of the government to reform the tax system can be gauged from the fact that in 2007 there were 2.1 million tax filers which have declined to 1.26 million in 2017, “and are reported to be even lower this year”.
Moreover, he said the entire burden of revenue generation was being placed on the middle classes, poor, industry and farmers, as the government has failed to collect tax from tax evaders and money launderers.
Expressing their dismay, both the senior leaders further said that the current state of external economic crises were a result of poor and ill-intentioned government policies, as well as weak institutions dealing with the economy.
“Poor governance resulting from these weak institutions has sapped the capacity of the government to formulate and implement policies needed for strengthening the economy.”
“The institutions have been deliberately weakened to ensure lack of accountability for the rulers and their accomplices, they said, adding, “No economic turnaround can take place until these institutions are provided protection from political interference and appointments made on merit.”