LAHORE: PML-N President and leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif said on Tuesday that the government’s cruel measures were crushing the poor and the economy.
The statement came as the Opposition leader’s reaction to the increase of nearly Rs4 in the electricity tariff, announced by the National Electrical Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) for the consumers in Karachi.
The Nepra notified another hike in electricity price for Karachi, increasing the rate by Rs3.75 per unit, on account of the fuel charges’ adjustment for September.
“The hike in electricity tariffs, inflation, unemployment, and the magnitude of economic catastrophe will only intensify under this disastrous regime,” Shehbaz said.
He termed the increase in taxes and electricity, fuel, and gas tariffs as International Monetary Funds’ (IMF) “slavery”, saying that his party rejected these measures and policies of the PTI-led government.
Shehbaz pointed out that the government has not passed the relief of a global oil price drop on to the people of Pakistan. Instead, the poor have been mocked by the imposition of petroleum development levy and sales tax, he added.
The Opposition leader said the government was going to take about Rs800 billion worth of new financial measures which would put a lot of pressure on the people and the economy.
The Rs250 billion cut in development expenditure and new taxes of Rs550 billion was absolute oppression for the people, he said, adding that it is tantamount to burning Pakistan’s economy to ashes, especially at a time when inflation had already choked the people.
Shehbaz said Pakistan’s external account position is already fragile, and these steps will create more problems. Economists are questioning why the current government had not properly negotiated an agreement with the IMF in the national interest, he said.
Shehbaz confirmed that the IMF did not even allow the PTI government to borrow 2% of GDP in one fiscal year. The only way out of this mess is a higher and steady GDP growth rate, he said.
He also warned the government against the “hot money” initiative, which he said had already hurt the economy. After exiting the IMF program in 2017, the interest rate was 5.7% and GDP 5.8%.