Sunday Jun 27, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan will not succumb to pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and will not increase prices of petroleum products to put an additional burden on the poor, said Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin Saturday.
These comments from the minister came as he wrapped up the debate on demands for grants for the Finance Division. He recalled how the prime minister had not increased the price of petroleum products for the past few months, adding that he will not increase financial burden on the poor.
He spoke about economic growth, stating that Pakistan's economy, which was touching 4% now, would eventually reach 5% by the end of next year. The minister reminded the Opposition that Pakistan wasn't the only country that had registered a negative growth due to the pandemic; rather India and Bangladesh's economy had also witnessed negative growth.
Tarin said though the growth rate was projected at 2% during the outgoing fiscal year, it had increased to 4%.
He said the government would exceed the revenue collection target of Rs4.7 trillion for the current fiscal year and added that next year's target of Rs5.8 trillion would also be met.
The minister reminded the Opposition that the government had to opt for the IMF's programme as it had inherited a $20bn current account deficit. He accused former finance minister Miftah Ismail of artificially appreciated the rupee against the dollar.
A few harsh exchanges took place between the government and Opposition members over the demand for grants.
“Are you asking for grants for such people who did nothing for Kashmir and the Kashmir cause?" asked the PML-N's Qaisar Ahmad Shaikh, while reacting to remarks of the Minister for Kashmir Affairs Ali Amin Gandapur.
When Opposition members started calling ministers of the government incompetent, Gandapur got up and started trading barbs with Opposition members.
“Sit down. You used to carry bottles of honey," Rana Tanveer hit out at Gandapur.
The PML-N leader said people like Gandapur had bargained on the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) and now are playing havoc with this part of the territory. He pointed out that there was a brigade of special assistants and spokespersons in addition to the huge cabinet.
It was then that Speaker Asad Qaiser intervened to calm tempers. Tanveer said the Establishment Division, which had been reduced to a post office, should be shut down.
He said the government should appoint a section officer in its stead to issue notifications. Lashing out at the government too, PPP parliamentarian Abdul Qadir Patel said it would take a long time to talk about the failures of the cabinet members.
“Should we approve grants for the federal cabinet so that it continues with its failures?” he asked, adding that some special assistants have already escaped the country after committing corruption.
Adviser on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan, while responding to a point of an Opposition leader, said the incumbent cabinet is controlled by the Parliament and not from across the border.
Awan said firm action has been taken against corrupt elements. He said recoveries of Rs1,000 billion have been made from different mafias, including the land mafia.