Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday claimed that the government was “putting the country at stake for a mere $1 billion” and offered it support “in the public interest”.
Opening debate during the National Assembly session, the PML-N president said that “$1 billion can be arranged mutually.”
“If the government decides to stand against the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in the public interest, the opposition will support it,” Shahbaz said.
The opposition is ready to support the government if it rejects the conditions put forth by the IMF, he added.
Shehbaz claimed that Pakistan is currently one of the most expensive countries of the world.
Criticising the government for imposing “unnecessary taxes” in the supplementary finance bill, he said that countries are reducing taxes while the PTI government is imposing additional taxes.
He regretted that general sales tax is being imposed on infant milk.
The opposition cooperated with the PTI government for removal from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list. However, “we were called thieves,” he continued.
The PML-N leader told the House that it “wasn’t former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif or Shahid Khaqan Abbasi who stood on the container and said that if the power tariff is increased, then the prime minister of the time is a thief”.
“This was said by the current Prime Minister Imran Khan,” he added.
Shehbaz highlighted that the government has proposed taxes on the machinery for charitable hospitals along with increasing taxes on exports of equipment used for treatment of TB and cancer patients.
He said that in the supplementary finance bill, the government has also proposed an increase in taxes on the raw material required for the production of medicines, “which will eventually increase the price of medicines in the country”.
Regarding the agriculture sector, the opposition leader said that Pakistan was self-sufficient in agricultural produce a few years ago, however, because of the incumbent government, the country now has to import wheat and sugar.
“How will we promote agriculture if they are imposing additional taxes on the import of agricultural implements and machinery?” he questioned.
Recalling the time when PML-N was in power, he said that during their tenure, the price of urea was Rs1,200 and today the price is around Rs3,700.
Meanwhile, the price of DAP (diammonium phosphate) during PML-N’s tenure was Rs2,400, while currently the price is around Rs9,500, that too in the black market.
“Agriculture, industry, businesses and the common man, all are in a terrible state,” Shehbaz said.
He said that the PTI government promised to construct five million houses but they “snatched jobs from six million people”.
“The government did not even lay a single brick for the construction of these long-promised houses,” he said.
Shehbaz recalled that during the PML-N’s rule, inflation was around 2.3 percent and things were most affordable.
He also called the PTI leaders “a security risk for Pakistan.”
“They have imposed taxes on bakery items, eggs, red chillies, and even baby formula milk; how can they claim that there will be no inflation?” he questioned.
He said that Imran Khan imported machinery for his hospital at low rates “which was a good thing because patients are treated for free.”
However, why is the government now imposing taxes on the import of medical equipment for private and charitable hospitals?
“I have suffered from cancer back in 2003, and only a cancer patient can understand the suffering of other patients,” he added.
The PML-N leader said that there is a vast difference between the words and actions of the government.
“If fair elections are held, people will tell them their actual value.”
ASAD UMAR: Reacting to the speech, Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar criticised the PML-N for “leaving the country in economic turmoil.”
Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, Asad criticised the PML-N and the PPP for signing deals with the IMF during their respective tenures.
“During their terms, PML-N had contacted the IMF four times, while the PPP approached seven times, and now the Opposition leader is talking about the charter of economy,” Asad said.
Nawaz Sharif ruled the country thrice but “did not sign a charter of economy with the opposition even once,” he added.
Asad said that “if we talk with the PML-N about the charter of economy, we would learn nothing except for ways to make illegal money, corruption, and money laundering.”
He said that “Shehbaz used to call Asif Zardari a thief,” while his party used derogatory words for late Benazir Bhutto.
Talking about the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) decision to place Pakistan on its grey list, Asad said that the country was added to the grey list during the PML-N’s tenure.
“During legislation on getting Pakistan off the FATF grey list, the PML-N opposed the process,” he said.
The federal minister said that the PML-N had collected Rs3,800 billion in terms of tax, while the PTI has managed to recover a sum of Rs4,800 billion worth of taxes despite being hit by COVID-19.
“We will also collect a tax of Rs6,000 billion this year,” he said.
Referring to former finance Minister Miftah Ismail’s video clip in which he was talking about the economic crisis in the country, Asad said that he admitted that the economic titanic was sinking during his tenure.
He said that Pakistan’s economy has improved by 4 percent due to PTI’s efforts despite the COVID-19 wave in the country, adding that, “the previous year, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was recorded up to 5 percent, while this year target of achieving 4.8 percent GDP has been set but it will be higher than this.”
He said that in the first six months of the current fiscal year, exports in the country have been increased by 27 percent to 28 percent, adding that the country is going to witness a record increase in remittances too.