ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government on Thursday announced a complete ban on imported cars and non-essential items in a latest effort to tackle a growing economic crisis in the country.
Pakistan is currently facing dwindling foreign exchange reserves, as its currency continues a downward spiral against the US dollar and a deal for the revival of a $6 billion loan program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) hangs in the balance.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced his decision to ban non-essential items, saying the move would help Pakistan save “precious foreign exchange.”
“We will practice austerity and financially stronger people must lead in this effort so that the less privileged among us do not have to bear this burden,” he tweeted.
Information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb announced the government had finalized a fiscal management plan to deal with the economic crisis.
“Yesterday, it was decided that for the first time in Pakistan’s history, all non-essential and luxury items will be banned completely,” she said. “These include food items, luxury items and all imported cars.”
Aurangzeb said Pakistan was currently facing “an emergency situation” and Pakistanis would see the impact of difficult decisions on foreign exchange reserves within two months.
She said the government attached the highest priority to decreasing Pakistan’s dependency on imports and introducing an export-oriented economic policy.
“Local industry, local producers and local industries in Pakistan will benefit from this [policy],” she said. “This economic plan will also promote employment in the country.”
The minister announced the government’s decision to ban imported mobile phones, home appliances, dry fruits, fruits, crockery items, private weapons, shoes and chandeliers.
Other banned items include decoration pieces, sauces, frozen meat, sanitary ware, doors, window frames, fish, frozen fruits, carpets, reserved food items, tissue papers, furniture, makeup and shampoo items, confectionary, luxury mattresses and sleeping bags.
Marriuum Aurangzeb added the government’s focus was to reduce imports and, therefore, it was about to introduce an export-oriented policy, which would benefit the local industry and producers.
The information minister said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was working “day and night to stabilise the economy” and had decided to ban the imports of all items that were not in the use of common people.
Aurangzeb added the imports covered food items, decoration items, and luxury vehicles, as she noted that the country was facing a “tough economic situation due to the previous government’s policies”.
The government has decided to ban the import of the following items:
- Mobile phones
- Home appliances
- Fruits and dry fruits (except Afghanistan)
- Private weapons and ammunition
- Chandeliers and lighting (except energy savers)
- Headphones and loudspeakers
- Sauces, ketchup etc.
- Doors and window frames
- Travelling bags and suitcases
- Sanitary ware
- Fish and frozen fish
- Carpets (except Afghanistan)
- Preserved fruits
- Tissue paper
- Luxury mattresses and sleeping bags
- Jams and jelly
- Bathroom ware/toiletries
- Aerated water
- Frozen meat
- Pasta etc
- Ice cream
- Shaving goods
- Luxury leather apparel
- Musical instruments
- Saloon items like hairdryers etc.
The information minister said the announcement was part of the fiscal plan devised by the current government to overcome the PTI’s “incompetent” policies.
Berating the PTI for calling out the incumbent government on the economic turmoil, Aurangzeb said the Imran Khan-led government hiked inflation, took historic loans, committed “economic terrorism”, and played with the country’s economy by subsidising petroleum prices.
The information minister noted that the PTI government went against the agreement it had made with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by subsidising the price of petroleum products.
“Now, we cannot come out of the conditions put forth by the IMF for Pakistan. But despite that, instead of shifting the burden of conspirators on Pakistanis, the PML-N and its allies do not plan on doing this as it has never been their manifesto,” Aurangzeb said.
The information minister said during the previous government did not have an economic plan. “[Ex-prime minister] Imran Khan would often say that he wasn’t in power to know about the rates of tomatoes.”