Tarin sees looming ‘tsunami of inflation’

Former financial czar says rulers throw themselves at lender's feet

Our Correspondent January 28, 2023
Former Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin. Screengrab


As the government struggles with high import payments and depleting foreign exchange reserves, former finance minister Shaukat Tarin on Friday blasted the rulers for failing to arrest the deteriorating crisis and warned that a ‘tsunami of inflation’ was just around the corner.

Tarin asked people to brace for an onslaught of new taxes as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) presses the government to impose new taxes worth Rs3.2 trillion and as “the government gives IMF an easy walkover”.

He savaged the government for literally throwing itself at IMF’s feet.

The former financial czar was speaking at a joint press conference flanked by PTI General Secretary Asad Umar.

Painting a gloomy portrait of the economy, he said the circular debt was increasing by Rs123 billion per month, adding that the country’s debt had also increased by Rs4.5 trillion during the past two days due to the rupee’s nosedive.

“The CPI will go up to 30-35%. The inflationary storm is imminent and the unemployment rate will also rise,” he said and noted that the IMF was also reluctant to do much due to a budget deficit worth Rs3 trillion.

In the wake of the government’s move to strike a deal with the global money lender under such inauspicious circumstances, Tarin warned, it will be the masses and common man who will have to bear the brunt of it.

“Prices of petrol and diesel will also skyrocket.”

Due to the debt, the government would have to hike the prices of electricity by taking it to Rs50 per unit. "A tsunami of inflation is looming over the country."

He alleged that both finance ministers of the ruling coalition – Miftah Ismail and Ishaq Dar – sold a lie to the nation as he predicted a negative growth rate during the current fiscal year.

“The country's foreign reserves are running dry and are less than $4 billion while the revenue generated by the FBR amounts to paltry Rs400 billion which is way off the mark,” he noted.

The former finance minister further warned that in case a deal could not be inked with the IMF, other countries will refrain from lending money too.

He said that it has become a matter of national security rather than an economic issue.

For his party, PTI leader Asad Umar claimed that efforts were underway to rope in PTI lawmakers, alleging that the MNAs and MPAs had informed the leadership that they were being contacted.

“They are told that their future is not with the PTI,” he claimed.

Echoing the former finance minister’s concerns, Asad said the nation witnessed a tsunami of inflation during the past nine months as the prices were at a historic level. “You have pushed economy into a ravine. The country’s foreign exchange reserves sink to three weeks’ [worth of import cover].”

Responding to a question about elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he warned that Article 6 of the Constitution would be applicable "if polls are not held within 90 days".

The PTI leader further said that they have filed a petition in the Lahore High Court. Another application has been filed in the apex court regarding the appointment of caretaker chief minister in Punjab, he added.


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