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ISLAMABAD: Federal information minister Shibli Faraz said on Wednesday that federal government paid Rs 6 trillion against loans and interest/mark-up in the last two years.

Addressing a press conference, he said: “Trade deficit was huge when this government took over and there was acute shortage of dollars. The previous government used artificial means to keep dollar rate stable which resulted in huge imports. This destroyed the country’s exports and led to deindustrialization.”

“Current account deficit was of $60 billion in the past that was brought to 0 by this government and it remained positive for a few months. The PM took help from China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Today’s Pakistan’s economy is getting strengthened”.

“There is a lot of negative propaganda of opposition that this government took Rs 11 trillion loans in two years. In reality, loans and interest of Rs 6 trillion were paid in last two years.”

He said Rs 1.2 trillion was spent to help the downtrodden segments of society in the backdrop of Covid-19 outbreak. “Inflation is now in single digit, prices of commodities are being reduced. State Bank of Pakistan reserves have increased. Industry is flourishing. Exports, remittances and tax collection have improved remarkably. Imports have decreased. Exchange rate is stable. Everything is on the right track,” Faraz said.

In international market, prices of commodities have increased but the government is trying to reduce prices, he said, adding that a reduction in LNG (liquefied natural gas) prices will give relief to consumers.

The information minister said the performance of government was reviewed in the PTI Parliamentary Party meeting.

Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh briefed the Parliamentary Party meeting of the steps taken by the government to strengthen economy, he said.

The minister quoted the PM as having said in the meeting that Senate elections should be free and fair. “We have moved Supreme Court to take guidance. We are also working on a bill to be passed by Parliament (for open ballot in Senate elections)—we are exhausting all options to ensure free and fair elections,” he said.

The minister said opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) “failed” in all its targets set against the government due to “internal differences” and divergence of interests of opposition parties.

“PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) has a different viewpoint than that of PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz). PPP wants no-confidence motion against PM but PML-N is not in favour of this motion. Their interests diverge and they are fighting for their vested interests,” he said.

On the Broadsheet controversy, Faraz said: “Corruption is very big problem of Pakistan— it is our duty to hold investigation into the Broadsheet controversy which would be held in the light of the Commission of Inquiry Act 2017 to thoroughly investigate the matter,” he said. A notification on the establishment of one-man commission comprising of Justice Azmat Saeed to investigate this issue was scheduled Wednesday, the minister said.

Faraz said issues related to Punjab are being resolved and there is no truth in reports suggesting removal of Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar from office.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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