ISLAMABAD: Senator Sherry Rehman has expressed grave reservations about the state of public finances and the lack of vision defining the mini-budget presented by the government.
In a statement issued here on Monday, She said, “Pakistan’s economic situation is critical and the mini-budget does not even pretend to address the enormity of the crisis we are facing. After all the noise about bringing serious change, the actual plan presented fell seriously short of providing answers to the big questions that spell imminent danger to the economy as well as the big deficits, ruining the fundamentals.”
Criticizing the government’s lack of clarity for its long-term economic plan, the Senator said, “The most crucial challenge, which is to reduce the country’s reliance on external borrowing, has not been addressed. Pakistan’s total external debt and liabilities now stand at $95 billion or 30% of the GDP which is dangerously unsustainable.
It is alarming that to this day, we still have not heard what the government plans to do. How will the $9 billion needed to meet Pakistan’s current account deficit be financed? Will Pakistan knock on IMF’s doors again or rely on other means to reduce the country’s debts? This ambiguity is causing uncertainty in the markets”.
Referring to the proposed adjustments providing protection to non-filers by allowing them to resume buying property and automobiles, Rehman said, “The biggest disappointment was the message given to those who don’t pay taxes. This will not compel people to pay taxes, and ignores Pakistan’s fundamental challenge of widening the tax net!”
She pointed out, “It is also note-worthy that in order to meet the Rs 814 billion fiscal adjustment, the government decided to slash the development fund by Rs225 billion but added Rs234 billion to the non-development budget, therefore almost negating the effect of the development fund cut. This does not add up. PPP had to deal with a 3.1pc of GDP adjustment in our first year in office”. INP