Federal Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar on Saturday said the country's economy was back on the path of growth just as he had predicted two years ago, but his claim was rejected by his own brother, Muhammad Zubair of the PML-N, and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
Responding to the opposition's criticism of the “sudden” growth figures presented by the government, the minister shared a video on Twitter from April 3, 2019.
“I had predicted back then that it would take two years,” he wrote.
“The [Prime Minister] Imran Khan-led government's strategy is clear from day one,” he added.
“[That is] bringing the country on the path of long-term growth. [We] don't make popular decisions in haste.”
Disagreeing with his brother, PML-N leader Muhammad Zubair said the country's economy was “in ruins”.
In a tweet, the former Sindh governor wrote that “even if we agree, what does it say of your kaptaan [PM Imran] who had no clue”.
“Just 15 days after this event, the kaptaan removed you [from the post of the finance minister]. Surely he doesn’t understand. That’s why we insist he must go,” he added.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in response to the minister's tweet rejected the claim of returning the country to the path of economic progress.
The scion of the Bhutto dynasty pledged to ensure that the upcoming “PTIMF” budget was not passed by parliament.
“An anti-public government cannot make a people friendly budget,” he added.
The PPP chairman hit out at the PTI government for acquiring loans from global financial institutions on tough conditions and imposing “unbearable” taxes on the citizens.
“The only way to gauge progress in civilised societies is the prosperity of its poor,” he maintained.
Bilawal further claimed that the PTI's policies revolved around “capitalism”.
“Only the PPP represents public interests.”
A day earlier, the Annual Plan Coordination Committee (APCC) approved an economic growth target of 4.8% and estimated inflation to remain at 8% in the next fiscal year.
The economic plan will now be tabled before the National Economic Council (NEC) on June 4 for its formal endorsement. The NEC meeting will be headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The NEC is a constitutional body responsible for macroeconomic planning and the deputy chairman of the planning commission heads the APCC.
Umar said the highlight of the outgoing fiscal year was that the gross national product (GNP) increased to a 16-year high and grew by 6.5% due to strong growth in foreign remittances. The foreign remittances are not included in the gross domestic product (GDP).
The minister said foreign remittances were expected to peak to $29.3 billion in this fiscal year. They have been estimated to increase to $31.3 billion in 2021-22.
Umar said the country could afford to have up to 2% of the GDP current account deficit and the PTI government had tried to follow an economic model of sustainable growth by relying on productive sectors of the economy.
“If we tried to achieve growth by adopting methods used by the PML-N like exploding the current account and budget deficits, we would not have a place to hide in the upcoming elections,” he added. (With input from agencies)