Shehbaz dishes out the blame as rupee tanks

Published: June 28, 2019
PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly (NA) Shehbaz Sharif has said that the steps taken by the PTI will not let the business of the government nor the household run and the continuous increase in the value of dollar was animosity with Pakistan and its people.

Addressing a point of objection in the lower house on Thursday, he said that in the last 24 hours, the people of Pakistan have been burdened with additional Rs600 billion of foreign debt as the dollar hovers around the Rs165 mark against the rupee in the inter-bank market.

“Our people have been saddled with another Rs4 trillion in debt since the incumbent government came to power,” Shehbaz said. He added that if such circumstances persist, Pakistan would have to make the highest-ever interest payment on loans in the country’s history.

“During the last 24 hours, there has been two percent inflation. Besides that, the government will have to pay Rs700 billion in interest against additional loans, while because of the devaluation of rupee the payment amount has spiked by Rs75 billion.”

Opposition ratchets up pressure on govt

Shehbaz said that every increase of Re1 in the value of the dollar adds Rs80 billion to the national debt. “The government has taken more than Rs7,000 billion in loans during the last 10 months but has not nothing to show for it in the form of development — not even a single brick. Will the government constitute an investigating commission for this?”

Shehbaz claimed that Rs1.3 trillion has been added to the country’s debt burden in the month of June alone. “What would you call a 200 per cent increase in gas tariff other than something downright cruel?” he said referring to the increase suggested by the relevant regulatory body.

Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar said the accurate figure of internal and external borrowing of this year was Rs2.4 trillion. “The opposition should stick to facts and should not say that Rs7 trillion has been borrowed if it wants a serious dialogue on the economy.”

He also said that it was incorrect to say that additional burden of Rs1,500 billion in taxes was imposed in the budget for the next fiscal year as the actual additional taxes were Rs516 billion. “The remaining taxes would be collected through withdrawal of subsidies, rationalization of exemptions and revival of taxes that were not collected due to different reasons in the past.”

The government had set a revenue collection target of Rs5.5 trillion for the upcoming financial year 2019-20, he added. “It has also reduced the current account deficit by 30 per cent,” he said.

He told the NA about steps taken for broadening of tax base, saying PTI government integrated the database of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in 10 months and now data of 55 million persons was available on portals of NADRA and FBR and anybody could see his own data.

Speaking during the debate on cut motions, PML-N legislator Shahid Khaqan Abbasi objected to the increase in tax collection to Rs5.5 trillion. He was of the view that the country’s loans would continue to rise due to the gap in expenditure and revenue. (With additional input from APP)


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