PPP, PML-N slam govt over high inflation

Accuse ruling party of manipulating economic figures


Our Correspondent June 07, 2021
Chairman Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto addressing a press conference in Islamabad on June 4, 2021. SCREENGRAB

KARACHI/LAHORE:

Two major opposition parties the PPP and PML-N on Sunday held the PTI government responsible for high inflation and maintained that the country cannot get on the right track unless the ruling party stops “manipulating” the economic figures.

In a statement, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto said that the government had put the sovereignty of the nation at “stake” by signing an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on tough conditions.

“If India can overcome inflation by 4.20% and Bangladesh could do the same by 5.54% during the Covid pandemic, why was the ratio 10.9% in Pakistan?” he asked.

The Bhutto scion noted that the government could not cover its “inefficiency” by shifting the blame of inflation on the IMF.

"The ‘mafia’ working under [Prime Minister] Imran Khan’s supervision raised the prices of chicken by 110% in the past three months," he said.

“The PTI elite minted billions by raising the prices of chicken, and unfortunately they will now lower the prices and claim credit.”

He observed that a common man did not have money and criticised the premier for "planning to hand over billions to PTI lawmakers in the forthcoming budget".

Read PTI government blames IMF for high inflation

He added that “Awarding Rs96 billion to PTI legislators in the midst of the worst economic crisis is [an] anti-people [step]”.

“Instead of handing out billions to those elected through rigging, the premier should spend money from the exchequer on people’s welfare.”

Bilawal stated that the government had remained unable to bring about its five-year economic plan. “If the PTI’s policy is to plan the economy on the IMF’s directions, then the premier should tell people openly that he came to power without any planning.

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif also took a dig at the PTI for soaring prices of essential daily use items in the country.

He accused the government of presenting wrong economic figures “just as it did during the wheat and sugar crises” that hit the country a few months ago and resulted in the increase in prices of these commodities.

“Proper planning is not possible when important [economic] figures are manipulated. The country and nation will have to face crisis after crisis,” he said in a statement.

He said the “AGPR’s” objection on the issue of payment of Rs140 billion to the FBR had revealed the “credibility of the government’s revenue collection data”. Shehbaz said the AGPR was demanding of the government that a reduction in revenue be shown after the payment of tax refund.

“This reveals how the government is busy in manipulating the economic figures and statistical data,” he said.

“Last year also the government had adjusted Rs100 billion.”

On June 3, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin claimed that the IMF forced Pakistan to increase interest rates and power tariff that doubled the cost of debt servicing and pushed inflation upward.

In a rejoinder to the PML-N’s critique of the government’s economic policies, the minister also said that when the PML-N was in power, the 5.5% economic growth rate was fueled by borrowings.

“Debt servicing increased because of the increase in interest rates,” Tarin told The Express Tribune.

He added that inflation had increased due to high capacity payments and the IMF forced the government to increase electricity prices by 46% at the start of the programme.

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