Stay strong in face of economic complexities, PM urges nation - GulfToday

Stay strong in face of economic complexities, PM urges nation


The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Tariq Butt

Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked people to have heart and stay strong in the face of economic complexities and rising inflation.

“Pakistan will make it through this time,” he said while speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Mother and Child Hospital and Nursing Training Centre in Rawalpindi.

Imran conceded that it is absolutely true that right now people are confronted with difficulties. Power and gas are expensive while inflation is rising. “But what I want you to understand is this: why do prices rise? It is because power and gas sectors are heavily under debt. When our government came to power, debts of both sectors had risen to Rs1,300 billion. There are only two ways to tackle debt; either you take more loans and our power sector is already so indebted that we cannot borrow any further and so we have to raise prices.”

The premier said that reorganisation of national institutions would not be derailed. He said the nation wants to get rid of corruption, poverty and government would not disappoint the people. Imran said that the people would have to live in difficulty until the government corrects the system and repays the country’s debts.

Imran’s speech lacked bashing of the opponents. Comparatively, it was a brief speech where debts were mentioned by him without accusing and shouting at the loan-takers. He reminded that provision of basic facilities and resolving common people’s problems are the fundamental responsibilities of the government. The government is trying to improve the existing health facilities and establish new hospitals where needed, he said.

The prime minister said that the government has launched health insurance card under which a family can get medical treatment at private or government hospitals up to Rs720,000.

Imran promised that his government would try its best to “fulfil the basic needs of the people.”

He said that the government will provide loans to young people so they can start businesses and provide cows and buffaloes to residents of rural areas.

He pointed out that shelter homes were established across Pakistan, where labourers and passengers can stay, along with food facility free of cost. The homes that were introduced in Lahore and Peshawar were growing in number and were providing shelter and food to people who could not afford to pay rent.

 The government has come under attack in the Senate over alleged handover of Pakistan’s economic policy to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and that talks were being held between “IMF and IMF” on a bail-out package for Pakistan.

Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani said that past civilian governments never got the opportunity to formulate the foreign as well as security policy, but now the economic policy of Pakistan had also been snatched from the civilians and handed over to the IMF.

He said the ongoing talks were in fact a dialogue between IMF to IMF and not between government of Pakistan and IMF because those representing Pakistan during the negotiations belonged to the IMF.

Substantiating, he said that appointment of Adviser to the Prime Minister on Economy and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) governor, a sitting IMF employee, shows who is running Pakistan economy. “I have also heard that IMF is giving dictation to the government about the budget for the 2019-20.” Rabbani continued that the past governments also made agreements with IMF, but in those accords there was no condition of “sell out,’ as they did not change their finance ministers on the orders of IMF. “But this government not only changed its finance minister but also replaced him with an IMF man and then handpicking another sitting employee as SBP governor, which is unprecedented.”

Senator Javed Abbasi of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said the government had unleashed three petrol bombs and the recent one was no less than a nuclear one due to which everything had gone skyrocketing. He regretted that prices of gas were increased 143 per cent, and some 3.4 million people were slapped with inflated gas bills, but despite commitment that overbilled consumers would be compensated accordingly, no one was given a single penny.

Abbasi said that former finance minister Asad Umar was booted out on the dictation of IMF, while Adviser on Economy and the new SBP governor were handpicked on the reformation of the institution, which was quite shameful.

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