ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Wednesday told his cabinet members to roll up their sleeves to meet the challenges of inflation, unemployment, poverty and load-shedding, for turning the desperation into an opportunity of progress and public relief.
The prime minister, chairing the maiden meeting of his cabinet which took oath on Tuesday, believed that their dedicated and sincere efforts could turn the tide and make the country cope with the challenges successfully.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday chaired his government’s first cabinet meeting and instructed ministers to prepare for “war” against the challenges the previous government failed to counter — poverty, inflation, and unemployment.
In his address to the cabinet, which was aired by state media, Shehbaz stressed on providing ease to the nation, especially the poor segments of the society, through a “thorough and continuous” process of consultation.
He congratulated the cabinet members coming from different political parties of the ruling coalition, said the federal cabinet comprised seasoned politicians with vast experience and competence having huge struggle to their credit.
The prime minister said the current government came into being consequent to a no-confidence motion against the former prime minister. The incumbent government is based on huge coalition which was being applauded as well as criticized.
He expressed the hope that despite representing their own political parties, the coalition members would move on setting aside their personal biases with just one aim to serve the masses.
He also reiterated his resolve for making untiring efforts to come up to the people’s expectation.
“I call this a war cabinet as we are fighting against inflation, unemployment and poverty which we inherited from the previous government. The previous government had badly failed,” he remarked.
The prime minister said though the cabinet formation faced a bit delay, yet if was done consisting of very competent and experienced members.
He said the cabinet members would be briefed about the load-shedding and the factors behind it which would follow the decision making by the cabinet.
He urged the cabinet to pay attention to the issues faced by the federating units particularly Balochistan.
Recounting the challenges, the prime minister said the country was under immense debt burden but it was upon the incumbent government to overcome the challenges despite having limited resources.
“Today, we have to face the challenge collectively and should not evade any sacrifice. We will have to respond propaganda through facts, which would ultimately bury the lies,” he remarked.
Recalling the immense victimization of all opposition parties during the previous government, the prime minister said corruption was rampant during last three and half years.
Citing the successful journey of development of Germany and Japan, the prime minister said despite being badly hit by the second world war, both the countries bounced back and achieved excellence just on the basis of their struggle.
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb on Wednesday said that the federal cabinet was briefed on the economic disaster, unprecedented criminally irresponsible fiscal acts during past 4 years by Imran Khan.
In a tweet, she said that during Imran’s rule, inflation, poverty, unemployment, debts and deficits rose.
She said that Imran Khan’s term was marred by corruption and this was the reality of Naya Pakistan.
Quoting the figures, she said that in fiscal year 2017-18, GDP growth stood at 6.1 percent which fell to only 4 percent in 2021-22.
She said that in 2017-18, the CPI inflation was at 3.9 percent which shoot up to 10.9 percent in 2021-22 whereas the SPI inflation which was at 0.9 percent in 2017-18 increased to 17.3 percent. The food inflation which stood at 2.3 percent during 2017-18 shoot up to 10.2 percent, she maintained.
Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Miftah Ismail said here on Wednesday that the government would make all out efforts to restore the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) programme with International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Speaking at ‘Meet the Press’ organized by National Press Club, the finance minister, who was accompanied by Federal Minister Information and Broadcasting, Marriyuam Aurangzeb, said that government would do whatever was necessary to restore the programme.
He said the government could reduce public sector development spending with other necessary budgetary discipline arrangements. “We will restore the programme. If government had to tighten its belt, it will do so,” he said adding that no extra burden would be put on people.
He said the government would give a people-friendly and development-friendly budget despite all odds created by the PTI government. He expressed the hope that value of rupee would not slide further while the markets would also perform well.
He said the Pakistan Muslim League (N) had left growth rate at 6.1 percent which was reduced to 1.9 percent in first year of PTI government, negative one percent the following year and now this year the projection is 4 percent.
Likewise, he added, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) based inflation has went up from 3.9 to 12.7 whereas the Sensitive Price Indicator has climbed up to 17.3 percent adding that the rural inflation has witnessed more hike than urban one, which is unusual.
He said, PML(N) left 2.3 percent food inflation which has gone upto 10 percent in the year and 14 percent in March
Similarly, the Budget deficit during the 5 years of PML(N) tenure was recorded at Rs1600 billion average, however during the current year it has been recorded Rs5600 billion.
Miftah said, the tax collection has also reduced from 11 .1 percent of GDP to 9.1 percent whereas the debt which was Rs24,952.9 billion in PML(N) era has now risen to Rs42,735 billion till December 2021.
He said that during these 3 and quarter to four years’ government, the PTI has taken more than Rs20,000 billion debt.
He said that from first Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan to Nasir-ul-Mulk, the total debt was recorded at Rs25,000 billion whereas Imran khan took Rs20,000 billion debt in less than four years, an average of around Rs5500 billion.
He said when PML(N) took debt, the same utilized to build energy plants, road infrastructure, dams and education promotion, however no such utilization was witnessed in PTI government.
He said that rupee also devalued by Rs68 in PTI regime whereas PTI government took around $27 billion external debt, an average of $9 billion per year, adding that the average of taking debt was just $1 billion in PML(N) government.
He said that PML(N) government had lifted 20 million people out of poverty which were again thrown below poverty line by PTI regime.
He said that exports increased only in value, not in quantity adding that that imports too increased and are expected to reach historic high at $75 billion this year. So against the exports of $30 billion the trade ratio would be 1:2.5.
He said the current account deficit was also at $20 billion whereas the reserves have gone down to $10.8 billion
He said other than the power circular debt, the PTI regime has accumulated gas circular debt to 1.5 trillion.
He said the government would constitute a commission to investigate urea smuggling.