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LAHORE: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communications Dr Shahbaz Gill has said that though these are "golden days" for opposition parties - PML-N and PPP - to criticize the government ahead of the federal and provincial budgets, the silence of both the mainstream political parties is a proof that they are terrified due to their alleged corruption and they cannot deny the fact that the economy is showing improvement.

"The opposition parties - PML-N and PPP - which remained dominant over the government (in terms of criticism) in the past are sitting silent now a days just because of their corruption and wrongdoings," the premier's aide claimed while addressing a presser here on Sunday.

He said the first week of June is about to end but the opposition parties are silent which indicates that they have "nothing to criticize" as the economy is moving on the right path and the masses are getting relief. "These are the golden days for the opposition to criticize the government because Pakistan is a country which has had been preparing its budgets after borrowing money from foreign countries to meets the needs of its people," he added.

"If we cover our heads, our feet remain uncover and if we cover our feet, our heads remain uncover in the budget due to limited resources," he said. "PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz, who was actively criticizing the government in the recent past, is completely silent now and her uncle Shehbaz Sharif is not speaking too. What happened to them?" he asked. The whole nation is laughing at the PML-N because of its silence, he expressed.

Gill claimed that when the PML-N was defeated in the 2018 general elections, the current account deficit was at Rs 20,000 billion while exports declined to Rs 20 billion from Rs 25 billion and foreign reserves/debts were at Rs 9 billion from Rs 18 billion, leaving the country on the verge of bankruptcy. "Out of Rs 9 billion debts, the government had to immediately pay Rs 5-7 billion," he added.

Explaining why the PML-N is on silent mode, the premier's aide said when the government tightened the noose around 'corrupt elites', a good number of N-League lawmakers were allegedly found involved in land grabbing. The Jati Umra property of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was bought through forged documents, he claimed, adding that Daniyal Aziz, Khurram Dastgir Khan, husband of Maiza Hameed and Tehmina Doltana - wife of former CM Punjab Shehbaz Sharif - were allegedly involved in the land grabbing besides so many other leaders of the party.

"The jobs of all the special assistants to the prime minister are in grave danger as we fear termination if the opposition remained silent," he mocked and urged the PML-N and PPP to speak against the government policies on budget. "I request you (opposition parties) to speak, even lies, but for God's sake please speak," he mockingly added.

While sharing details how the economy is moving in the right direction and the people are getting its benefits, the SAPM said the recent two crops of wheat and maize were bumper and farmers were paid good money. "Now the federal and provincial governments are planning to bring improvements in the livestock and dairy sector," he revealed, adding that SAPM on Food Security Jamshed Iqbal Cheema would soon share a detailed plan with the media in this regard.

"Today the foreign reserves are at Rs 23,000 billion, exports climbed to Rs 23.5 billion while current account deficit "significantly" declined," Gill claimed. "The daily wage of a labourer in Faisalabad textile sector is two to three times higher due to increase in demand," he mentioned.

Similarly, he said, the prices of chicken and chicken meat significantly declined just because the government improved the supply chain, not because the assistant or deputy commissioners concerned took actions. "When the demand increases and the supply decreases, the prices shoot up leaving the government in "helpless" situation. Therefore, all we need is to invest in the supply chain for which we are making efforts," he added.

The SAPM announced that the government would soon give "easy loans" to youth for setting up more cold storages in the province to prevent farmers from suffering losses due to their perishable goods.

In May this year, he said, 1692,000 tones of petroleum items were sold which is the highest figure in the history of the country. Out of the total figure, the premier's aide added 762,000 tones of diesel and 730,000 tones of petrol was sold.

"Over 200,000 tones of kerosene oil and light diesel and other POL products were also sold," he said, adding that these were not the government's import figures, but of the POL items which were sold at petrol pumps or stations.

Speaking about the multi-billion dollar Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project, the SAPM said that after a leading construction company succeeded in getting development rights of the phase-1 (Sapphire Bay) of the country's first mega riverfront development venture in Lahore, the government would soon start working on its next two phases and invite biddings for Sapphire Bay Zone 4,6 and 7.

He said all the leading universities and hospitals of the country have been asked to start establishing their sub-campuses and buildings and they would pay the land amount at a later stage. Similarly, Gill said, the government is also preparing master plans for five big districts of Punjab having population 34 million people.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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