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ISLAMABAD: The government would be required to make loans repayment of $55 billion during its tenure of five years borrowed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and president Zardari’s governments.

This was stated by Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, while briefing the media after the cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday. The minister claimed that all the economic indicators are positive and overall situation clearly reflects stability.

The minister said that the repayment of foreign debt alone is $12.27 billion, whereas, another $12.5 billion would be due in 2023. We have to repay $55 billion taken by Nawaz Sharif and Zardari in five years of our tenure. He said those who are lecturing the present government that how economy should be managed, show that how the economy was managed by them.

He said that wealth creation is improving, textile sector is showing growth and IT exports have increased by 38 percent and there was a growth in income tax was 31 percent. All the crops have shown record growth and farmers have received additional Rs1.1 trillion, he added.

The minister further stated that production of crops was very encouraging this year with cotton production of 8.5 million bales and highest ever rice production of 8.8 million tonnes and sugarcane 88.1 million tonnes. Wheat and maize production was also historic, he added.

The minister said under the new auto policy, the government has set a target of vehicle production at 0.5 million from the current level of 240,000. He said the car production increased to 111,435 from 65,998.

November: Pakistan's current account deficit widens further to $1.91bn

He added that increase in car manufactures to 15 and banks loans for car financing to Rs378 billion from Rs240 billion with 40 percent growth simply reflects that wealth creation was in process. There was considerable increase in car production, motorbikes and tractors in the country, while sale was also showing a significant growth.

The minister said that during the last two years, the production of cars has increased. Growth and employment is increasing in the country as per these indicators. The minister acknowledged that there was increase in expenditure and this increase was primarily because of import of vaccine and payment to our IPPs.

He said that the payment was made because expensive power generation plants were set up on imported fuel during the tenure of previous government led by Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif. As a result, electricity in Pakistan is expensive. The government is paying for capacity whether it utilizes or not installed power, he added.

We are asking the ECP to issue tenders for electronic voting machines, he added. “If the economy is going down, then how these sectors are showing growth?” he questioned. He said that power consumption has increased 13 percent and diesel production 26 percent and therefore, all the economic indicators are positive and the economy is growing and jobs are creating, imports and foreign exchange reserves have increased, there is 44 percent increase in private businesses and so far, 200,000 companies are registered with the SECP and 140,000 were set up in the last two years.

The minister said that the cabinet also approved Election Act 2017 with regard to traceability of senate vote and amendments would now go to the parliament, and if approved it would prevent horse trading in senate elections. Ex-post facto approval of loans worth $3.9 billion from December 2020 to November 2021, he said that we are taking long-term loans for repayment of short-term loans taken by the previous government.

The minister said that the cabinet notified national food security management committee for approval of national food security with the prime minister in the chair, whereas, some ministers and secretaries as its members.

The cabinet was updated about urea situation and fertiliser committee would meet today (Wednesday) to resolve all the issues of urea being faced by the farmers. The minister said that all the countries participating in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said that another OIC meeting would be held in March on Kashmir issue.

Replying when asked about the local body elections in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, he said that when three to four candidates from the same party are contesting in a constituency, the elections will be lost and the same has happened in the KP as well. He said once again it has proven that the PTI is only national party and all other parties are now regional. He said that because of PTI mistakes, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam has re-emerged in the province.

The minister said that it is the duty of the PTI leadership and workers to put back their petty differences and strengthen Imran Khan. He said that without Imran Khan, Pakistan’s politics would be incomplete. About Asif Zardari’s comments, he said that it seems that Zardari has been unable to get a deal.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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