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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Saturday said that if we want to get rid of inflation, we have to send Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government home.

“After the implementation of income tax up to 35 percent in electricity bills through a presidential ordinance, the situation has gone beyond common man’s control. Imran Khan has made inflation the biggest problem of the people of Pakistan. If people across the country do not come out against inflation, Imran Khan’s attack through inflation on the people will not stop, ”Bilawal said.

The PPP chairman rejected five percent income tax on electricity bills up to Rs10,000,10 percent income tax up to Rs20,000 bill, 20 percent income tax on electricity bills up to Rs30,000 to Rs40,000 bill, which will bring a new storm of inflation.

Rising power prices after petrol will increase the cost of production of factories and will further affect the budget of the common man, he said.

'Govt robbing people': Bilawal criticises hike in fuel prices

He said that the people are already depositing billions of rupees in the national treasury in the form of indirect taxes from mobile phone cards to grocery items and others.

If tax is to be levied, PM Imran Khan should levy it on his rich friends who were given billions of rupees in tax rebates, the PPP chairman said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has announced to take to the streets against inflation.

PPP Secretary General Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari, NA-53 Islamabad ticket holder Syed Sibt-ul-Haider Bukhari and other leaders will address the protestors.

A protest rally against unemployment will be held in which office bearers and workers of the PPP and allied organisations will participate.

The PPP officials and workers will be participating in the protest against inflation.

In this regard, Bukhari has contacted various organisations of lawyers, students, civil society, traders, and workers.

Highlighting the unfolding economic crisis in Pakistan, Vice President PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said, “Pakistan is facing an economic crisis with no respite in sight. It comes as no surprise that according to a recent survey, 62 percent of Pakistanis have expressed dissatisfaction with the federal government’s performance when it comes to controlling inflation. The government does not seem interested in learning from its mistakes and is instead just making life difficult for people with their incompetence”.

“It is shocking that during a global pandemic while vulnerable communities hang by a thread, the government has slapped a 10 percent hike on price of essential medicines and surgical instruments. They have jacked up medicine prices at least 12 times, a whopping 35 percent surge since 2018, making healthcare unaffordable. It is the government’s responsibility to provide relief to people but here they have even made life saving medicines difficult to afford. With inflation, unemployment, increase in food and electricity prices, they should at least not add to peoples’ misery. Playing politics during a national health crisis is alarming,” she said, while rejecting the back-to-back hike in drug prices.

Bilawal criticises govt for sharp rise in prices of POL products

Rehman said, “Inflation has been on an exponential rise since the PTI government came into office. In 2018, according to the World Bank inflation was at 5.07 percent but it has sharply increased to 8.4 percent in July 2021 and is expected to increase further due to the devaluation of PKR and increasing domestic fuel prices. Our Current Account Deficit has increased by 81 percent to $1.5 billion, while FDI has declined by a 20 percent in the last two months. Poverty rate in Pakistan has been increasing since 2018, and has increased by 7.4 percent in three years of PTI government. These statistics should be taken seriously because they are foretelling us of the economic collapse”.

“People are already struggling because of the increasing electricity prices and now they have to worry about these advance income taxes. The bills already include fuel adjustments and other taxes. After the Tax Laws (Third Amendment) Ordinance 2021; FBR, NADRA and NAB will be able to share tax details and records with each other. One can’t help but notice the ulterior motive PTI government has behind this. Once again NAB will reopen old cases to target the opposition while FBR has been given sweeping powers,” she added, while condemning the five percent to 35 percent advance income tax on electricity bills through Presidential Ordinance.

Discussing the devaluation of rupee, Rehman said, “In the last three years of PTI government, PKR has devalued by 39 percent. It has somewhat settled at Rs169.40 now, which is still way too high for comfort. It had gone up to a peak of Rs170.7 while the government claimed that it happened due to high international Brent oil prices. However, the prices of Brent oil have been substantially higher in the past without reaching this level of devaluation of the PKR. Oil prices have been way higher in our governments but the rupee value did not crash like this. When the rupee is this volatile, it is the government’s responsibility to say something to calm the markets, but that’s clearly not the case here. The sharp rise in trade deficits and current account deficit over three months is a huge part of the reason. Our food import bill has soared by 55 percent to $6.2 billion mainly due to sugar and wheat imports, something that has not happened during PPP’s government. Now the question is that why are our exports not picking up?” Rehman asked.

“Currency devaluation is strongly linked to the current account deficit and trade deficit, and the government has been adding to it due to the ever-growing import bill. PTI government is responsible for the millions of people who are suffering due to the devaluation of the PKR, which is leading to extremely high oil prices, and contributing heavily to food inflation,” concluded the PPP Parliamentary Leader in the Senate Rehman.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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