– Finance Ministry, Ministry of Planning projected growth and inflation figures did not match but Prime Minister Imran Khan still approved it, says PML-N
– PTI’s claim of reducing circular debt to Rs10 billion a month, a lie, exposed by Asian Development Bank
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), in its white paper titled “Clarion Call, Rescue Economy”, accused that the first 16 months of the Imran Khan-led government were the most calamitous for Pakistan’s national security in the last half-century.
Criticizing the economic policies of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, PML-N’s white paper said that Imran Khan’s government’s ineptitude and policy bankruptcy has unravelled the precious consolidation in Pakistan’s economy, security, and foreign policy which was achieved under former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s leadership during 2013-18.
“Imran Khan government inflicted on 210 million Pakistanis the worst era of governance in Pakistan’s history; marked by catastrophic mismanagement in national security and economic policy; and by condemnable degradation in human development and in constitutional rights of Pakistani citizens,” said PML-N’s white paper, Clarion Call, Rescue Economy.
The white paper added that Imran’s first 16-months in government were the most calamitous for Pakistan’s national security in the last half-century and brought fear to families living on the Line of Control (LoC) as well as in Balochistan besides hurting poor with extortionate 12.7 per cent inflation and destroying families through endemic unemployment.
In its first-ever comprehensive response to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) economic policies, the white paper of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) alleged that PTI rule has so far caused worst contraction of large-scale manufacturing in a decade, and wretched performance in agriculture, with farmers reeling from exorbitant prices of electricity, agrochemicals, and fertilisers, besides withholding of funds owed to provinces which ruined human development across the country. Similarly, the government has been hurting citizens by making medicines extortionately expensive and cancelling free medicines, free tests, and free surgeries offered in government hospitals by the PML-N government.
Likewise, drastic decline in development expenditure has unleashed a tsunami of unemployment that not only rendered more than a million Pakistanis jobless but also forced approximately an additional 8 million Pakistanis into poverty.
More, in reprehensible contrast to its rhetoric, PTI government in its first year burdened Pakistan’s future generations with the highest debt and liabilities in a single fiscal year by any government in the nation’s 72 years – Rs10,335 billion in one year.
Furthermore, the government has rolled back the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), jeopardizing the nation’s economic future and the economic depth with Pakistan’s iron friend China achieved under Nawaz Sharif.
PML-N’s white paper has also alleged that Imran Khan’s irresolute foreign policy had comforted Pakistan’s enemies and dismayed our friends while dithering foreign policy, catastrophic economic mismanagement, and repression-fractured domestic polity brought Pakistan to a ruinously unprepared condition that emboldened India to strike us twice within six months.
Also, by retreating from former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s 2013-18 pivot towards China, Russia, and Central Asia, Imran Khan’s pivot back to the US and its allies in the Middle East has so far remained fruitless while much-touted revival of Pakistan’s longstanding relations with brotherly countries in the Middle East proved an illusion as not only these countries refrained from condemning India, but also some of them actually rewarded India.
“In its haste to conclude the International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal, Imran Khan’s government compromised on national security by agreeing to the formal mention of money laundering in the document, thus linking IMF tranches directly to Financial Action Task Force (FATF),” said PML-N’s white paper.
Terming Imran Khan’s government’s response to Kashmir’s annexation as inept, infirm, and indecisive, PML-N accused that despite passing 130 days to the annexation of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), PTI government had not only failed to launch any serious diplomatic initiative to counter India’s Hindu-extremist expansionism, it has still not finalized its demands from the international community beyond the immediate relief from curfew and communications lockdown in IOK.
“Instead of a well-crafted road-map of diplomatic, communication, kinetic, and legal actions for Pakistan, PM Khan built a war scenario, clumsily rattled the nuclear sabres, and concluded ineptly by asking the opposition what to do,” reads the PML-N white paper.
It added that Imran Khan’s speech at the United Nation (UN) General Assembly on 27 September was only sound and mere fury, with no follow-up. Pakistan’s diplomacy has been paralysed since, while millions of Kashmiris continue to bleed under Indian annexation.
The white paper also alleged that Imran Khan’s government has attacked all pillars of state during its first 16-months and the first victim was freedom of expression as journalists were thrown out of jobs, live shows with opposition leaders were forced off-air during broadcast, talk shows were cancelled, TV channels were taken off air, and opposition rallies were blacked out, while the government jailed dozens of opposition leaders on bogus charges, denied the right of jailed parliamentarians to appear in the parliament; assaulted the judiciary through coercion; and despoiled parliament through mayhem led by federal ministers.
“Media in the first one year of Imran Khan’s government suffered near-total censorship, acknowledged and documented around the world, and repeatedly protested against by all recognised journalists bodies,” said the white paper.
“PM Khan has trampled freedom of expression, judicial independence, parliamentary sovereignty, democratic norms, and constitutional rights of all Pakistani citizens.”
The white paper further said that federal ministers and treasury members in the National Assembly have rioted on the floor of the National Assembly; clashed physically with opposition members in the parliament premises, and constantly assault the opposition verbally on the floor. Similarly, the government’s constant attack on parliament has crippled legislation and impeded invaluable work of standing committees besides Imran Khan’s government’s horse-trading in the senate damaged gravely the public stature of Pakistan’s highest legislature.
Criticizing tall claims of PTI government for bringing improvements in country’s economy through its initiatives, PML-N, in its white paper titled “Clarion Call, Rescue Economy” said that “from July through October 2019-20, the exports to China stood at $586.4 million, which were down by 1.5 per cent as compared to July-October 2018-19.”
Similarly, it said that the claim of reducing circular debt to Rs10 billion a month was a lie which was exposed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Likewise, the government made wrong claims of zero borrowings from State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) for budget financing in fiscal year 2019-20 as it borrowed Rs1.2 trillion in advance before the start of IMF programme and placed the money with SBP.
Moreover, Asad Umar’s claim of higher spending of PSDP than to the last year of PML-N was proved wrong as PSDP spending went down by 13 per cent to Rs502 billion by June 2019. Furthermore, contrary to the claim of Imran Khan that overseas Pakistanis will trust his honest government and bring their money back, only $27 million money was invested in Imran Khan’s overseas investment certificates despite offering very high-profit rates.
Also, though Imran Khan made claims that bureaucracy will be free from political pressure, however, it also proved wrong as former secretary finance Younus Dagha was unceremoniously removed after he opposed anti-Pakistan IMF programme.
First supplementary budget was presented in September 2018. Revenue forecast was changed to Rs4398 billion. By April 2019, the forecast was further brought down to Rs4150 billion. Even this number predicted just 2 months before the budget was missed by more than Rs200 billion.
Likewise, the fiscal deficit was projected at 7.1 per cent on June 10, 2019, but 20 days later, the actual result showed that fiscal deficit had reached 8.9 per cent. Amount wise this represented a difference in expenditure of Rs800 billion.
Last but not the least, claims of PTI government not to take foreign loans proved wrong as it had obtained $16 billion worth of new foreign loans from August 2018 to September 2019, which is unprecedented in Pakistan’s history.
It is pertinent to mention that white paper has also pointed out the difference in financial numbers presented by finance ministry and the ministry of planning as finance ministry projected growth rate of 2.4 per cent and inflation of 13-15 per cent for fiscal year 2020, while the ministry of planning submitted growth of 3.5 per cent and inflation of 8 per cent for the same year. Interestingly both were approved by Prime Minister Imran Khan.