Islamabad: Information Minister Fawad Hussain Chaudhry on Tuesday painted a bleak picture of Pakistan’s economy, saying the current woes were inherited by the successive governments of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
While taking part in the ‘mini budget’ debate in the National Assembly, Chaudhry said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had been in government for hardly a month but “I can challenge [anyone to prove me wrong when I say] that this one month’s performance is better than the PML-N government’s one-year performance.”
Quoting from the US economist John Perkins’ bestselling book “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” he said the PML-N government did exactly to the country what East Indian Company did to India in the Mughal Era during the early part of the 17th century, that is, the economic colonisation of India.
Sharif and his men were little concerned about the welfare of the masses and didn’t take any step to strengthen economy of the country, Chaudhry said.
“PML-N’s Aristotles and veterans of economy made sure that our children and their children’s children were caught in vicious circle of loans,” Fawad said, revealing to the House some disturbing figures related to economy.
Pakistan’s fiscal deficit he said stood at 7.2 per cent that means gap between expenses and earnings is about 2.78 billion Pakistan rupees (Dh82 billion or US$21.5 billion).
The so-called experienced economists of PML-N government, he said did nothing to lower the fiscal deficit, which rose five times consecutively during five years of its rule.
Similarly, he said, there was a steady rise in the public debt during the governments of the PML-N and PPP, as it rose from six trillion rupees (US$48.69 billion), to 13 trillion rupees in 2013 while now in 2018 it stood at 21 trillion rupees (US$170.42 billion).
The minister quoted Perkins’ famous lines to “expose” the financial mismanagement of the previous two governments as a result of such ill-conceived economic policies circumstances.
“We are being exploited by the economic engine that creates an insatiable appetite for the world’s resources, and results in systems that foster slavery, we will no longer tolerate it. We will reassess our role in a world where a few swim in riches and the majority drown in poverty, pollution, and violence.”
Chaudhry also criticised the previous government of the PML-N in Punjab for spending 30 billion rupees ($243.46 million) on the Metro Bus project, saying now the provincial government needed 8 billion rupees ($64.9 million) every year to keep the buses running.
He also castigated the PML-N government forits Orange Line project, which he said has already cost Pakistan 300 billion rupees ($2.34 billion) while the project is still incomplete and it will require annual 20 billion rupees ($162.31 million) annually to keep the locomotive on the trail.
Such highly expensive projects were initiated on the whims and wishes of the Punjab Chief Minister and now he is rendering the PTI-government his advice on economic matters, said Fawad.
He criticised the lavish spending of the PML-N government on individuals and recalled how former finance minister Ishaq Dar went to London for backache treatment using the prime minister’s special plane.
Referring to criticism by PPP leader Naveed Qamar of Imran Khan’s appeal to the nation for funds, he said the PTI government was left with no option but to ask for funds and the national treasure was plundered by the PML-N and PPP governments successively.