ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, on Saturday, left the opposition red-faced for their “undue criticism” over the government’s decision of approaching the International Monetary Fund (IMF), saying the incumbent government had to borrow as the country needed to pay back as many as $28 billion accumulated due to the $20 billion current account deficit and short-term loans taken by the previous PML-N government.
In a hard-hitting speech in the National Assembly, Tarin said it was due to the flawed exchange rate policy of the PML-N because of which $60 billion was drained out of the country.
“And if they’re going to challenge me, I’m going to give them the papers…go and show it to economists,” retorted Tarin, amid desk thumping from the treasury benches.
In the same breath, Tarin, who had previously served as finance minister during the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government, reminded the PPP lawmakers that back in 2013 they had left exports at $25 billion when Bangladesh’s exports were $27 billion. Bangladesh exports have now reached $37 billion, but we have regressed to $16-17 billion even in 2021, he added.
“So what happened…the oil prices dipped during 2014-15; commodity prices went down. The currency depreciation was witnessed all over the world, but only our rupee which did not devalue, but wow, something must have fallen from the top due to which, Pak rupee did not depreciate and this was the reason our export reduced,” he lamented.
Due to reduction in exports, he added, the current account deficit reached $20 billion, leaving the government with no option but to approach the IMF.
He accused the then finance minister of the PML-N, Miftah Ismail, of “devaluing” the currency, adding that “when you talk about the IMF, you should say it is not because of the PTI, as it was due to the PML-N… .”
About opposition’s criticism he said that due to the Covid-19, the growth rate reduced to zero all over the world except China, adding that overall GDP growth last year contracted by 0.47 percent, industries and services sectors had posted negative growth of 2.6 percent and 0.59 percent, respectively.
“Heavens won’t fall, if our growth was reduced from 2 percent to negative 0.5 percent,” he added.
He said that despite coronavirus, the government took strong measures and growth was brought back to four percent, and this would be taken to five percent next year.
The minister expressed optimism that the FY2020-21 revenue target would exceed Rs4.7 trillion and it would be taken to Rs5.8 trillion next year.
He said the petroleum development levy (PDL) is now at Rs4-5 per litre, which the previous government had left at Rs30 per litre.
The minister said that Prime Minister Khan would not burden the poor, as “he has stood in front of the IMF like a rock,” adding that “we have constituted an Economic Advisory Council in which short-, mid-, and long-term development plans will be prepared.”
He said there was $20 billion current account deficit, which is now turning into surplus, adding that the government has given priority to exports.
The minister said that the primary deficit, which the previous government had left at 3.8pc of the GDP, which is now 1.1pc of the GDP, and it would be 0.6 percent of GDP by next year.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021