Ministers robustly defend ‘best’ budget

Say incentives given to agriculture, construction sectors to create employment


APP June 21, 2021
Defence Minister Pervez Khattak addressing the budget session in National Assembly. SCREENGRAB

ISLAMABAD:

Declaring the opposition’s criticism of the proposed federal budget a mere drama, Minister for Defense Pervez Khattak has claimed that the PTI government’s fiscal plan for 2021-22 will bring economic revolution in the country.

“The government has presented the best budget and the entire country is commending it,” the minister said in his budget speech in the National Assembly on Monday.

He said in the past, the PTI led government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) put the province on a path to progress and prosperity through landmark reforms.

“Owing to the reforms, the people of the province reposed confidence in the PTI leadership and elected them again with a thumping majority which is a big slap on the face of the opposition.”

The minister said the construction and industrial sectors are booming owing to incentives given by the incumbent government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He said the world economy suffered a lot due to COVID-19 pandemic. “However, our economy did not suffer a lot owing to prudent policies adopted by the government under the leadership of Imran Khan.”

He said the PTI government inherited very limited foreign reserves since its inception and had to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for payment of loans taken by the past governments of the PML-N and the PPP.

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“We would not only get rid of the IMF but also emerge as a strong economic power. The national economy is on the right track and the industry is expanding on a fast track,” he added.

The minister said the country's foreign reserves stand at $25 billion and a record increase has been witnessed in the export. The IT sector exports have jumped to over $2 billion during the PTI government which was only a few million dollars in the past, he added.

He said change was taking place in the country with improvement in the living standards of the people.  “We have given incentives to the industries and construction and this has started providing job opportunities to the people.”

He said if people's lives are getting better and they have money to meet their expenses, it is an indication that the country is going forward. “The opposition could no longer hoodwink the masses. The PTI will also win the general election of 2023 with an overwhelming majority,” he said.

He said the construction and agriculture industries generate employment in the country. “The government has given a record incentive to the agriculture and construction sectors.”

The minister said Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif claimed that no university was built in the K-P, which he earlier served as a chief minister. "I challenge him to hold a debate with me and recount what he did in his 20 years and I will lay facts before the house about what I did in just five years."

Taking on the floor, Minister for Economic Affairs Omar Ayub Khan said the last PML-N  government had abolished more than 134 Renewable Energy (RE) projects of 4,000 Megawatt (MW) to make a quick buck through the 'LNG train,' creating opportunities for loot and plunder of the national wealth.

Participating in the federal budget debate in the National Assembly, he said the PTI government after coming into power revived all these projects and brought a new RE policy, under which inexpensive electricity was being produced.

He said the PML-N government gave the solar projects' tariff of Rs23-24 per unit, which the incumbent government brought down to Rs6.5 per unit within the period of one year.

Before completing its five-year tenure, the minister said the previous government planted “landmines” for the next government by deteriorating all institutions and collapsing the national economy.

He quoted official reports of the Planning Commission and media publications of February 2018, the last year of the PML-N government in power, which showed the previous government had failed to deliver in all sectors, and the national economy totally collapsed due to its wrong policies.

"Private investment also fell far below the target of 16.7 percent despite the bonanza of the China- Pakistan Economic Corridor projects. While, imports remained far higher than the target of restricting to $31.1 million," he read from one the reports.

Omar Ayub said the PTI government inherited a $20 billion current account deficit from the previous government that also failed in controlling the fiscal deficit.

He said Matiari to Lahore High Voltage Director Current (HVDC) transmission line was near to completion, adding that the government was dealing with the issue of capacity charges “fixed-payment” so that it could be matched with the quantum of planned supply.

The minister said in 2013, the capacity payment was Rs185 billion that increased to Rs468 billion in 2018, due to the PML-N government's wrong agreements of “take or pay”.

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“Today 70 percent energy-mix of the country depends on imported fuel," he observed, adding this year the capacity payment would reach Rs860 billion and by 2023 it would be Rs1,455 billion due to faulty strategy and policies of the previous government.

The PTI government, Omar Ayub said, had renegotiated the agreements which would help save Rs4,000 billion in the next 15 years.

Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaid said the JB Morgan declared Pakistan as the best country for investment due to prudent policies of the present government under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Taking part in the budget debate in the National Assembly, he said the government has initiated several programmes for the masses of the country including Ehsaas Program, Kamyab Programme, Naya Pakistan Housing program and others.

Criticizing the Sindh government, he said the Sindh government had not conducted a Provincial Financial Commission Award for the last 14 years. The minister hailed the federal budget 2021-22, saying the main focus had been put on income generation, productivity and exports.

The minister said multiple measures had been suggested in the next budget to provide relief to the common people and to put the country on a path of development.

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