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Pakistan

Shehbaz comes down hard on govt's budgets

  • After finally being able to deliver his speech, leader of opposition criticises govt for its 'fake' budgets
  • Previous three National Assembly sessions were adjourned due to 'disorderly' behaviour
Updated 17 Jun 2021

(Karachi) Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif came down hard on the government for its budgets, saying that 20 million people have been pushed below the poverty line due to the rulers' negligence.

After being sidelined for three sessions amid ruckus in the National Assembly, Shehbaz took the chance to give his two cents on the government's recently-announced budget for fiscal year 2021-22.

Hunger, inflation on the rise

Criticising the PTI government, Shehbaz said that in the last three years several taxes have been imposed on the poor that have resulted in millions being pushed below the poverty line. He added that there is hopelessness in the country due to previous budget announcements, adding that the upcoming one would also further increase inflation.

He stated that 20 million people have fallen below the poverty line in the last three years while the income of the people has been reduced by 20 percent. "People are asking where are the 10.5 million jobs promised by the PTI. As a result of these fake budgets, 5 million people have lost their jobs."

Shehbaz maintained that 15 percent unemployment and 16 percent inflation convey a grim situation. "They say we will create Naya Pakistan. It is obvious that the old Pakistan was better when the country was somehow made to progress," he said.

"There are unprecedented differences between the provinces. If the government only develops Punjab and leaves out the rest of the provinces, then this is not development," the opposition leader said. "If only Punjab progresses and the rest of Pakistan does not, then it is not progress," he emphasised.

Revenge from opposition

He highlighted that the government devoted all its energy to take revenge from the opposition instead of pursuing accountability. "The Opposition has been subjected to the worst kind of revenge," he remarked.

He lamented that PPP's Khurshid Shah, his son, and PML-N's Khawaja Asif remain behind bars to date.

Shehbaz said nobody is against accountability but it should be done fairly.

Covid pandemic

Shehbaz also criticised the PTI government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Rs1.2 trillion package to deal with the coronavirus that was announced by the government also fell victim to incompetence and negligence, the PML-N leader said.

Break begging bowl

The PML-N leader said per-capita debt in Pakistan has risen to 0.14m, adding that "every last hair of our coming generations is mortgaged."

"Can any nation remain alive like this — with an atomic bomb on the one hand and a begging bowl on the other?" he asked.

Shehbaz stressed that the country would have to generate resources, saying, "If we want to end dictation, then we will have to break the begging bowl."

He questioned what the government had done to increase exports in the last three years. "The rupee has fallen 35 percent against the dollar. When the value dropped, imports became expensive. Our exports could not increase since 2018. The PTI government could not increase exports in three years."

He claimed that the government had increased fiscal deficit by Rs10tr in the last years. "What did they do in three years? Did they build any hospital or university or technical institute or LNG storage?"

He added that people would "laugh" if he gave them examples of how the PTI government has set up signboards and ended projects started during PML-N's tenure.

The opposition leader said Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin claims the country's economy is growing, but despite that, wheat prices have gone up.

Shahbaz said 1.1 million tonnes of sugar were exported with the prime minister's approval, and a subsidy worth billions of rupees was given on it.