ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Friday said that Ishaq Dar gave an “Instagramable budget with filters on,” as the budget for 2023-24 was prepared on the wishes of the 13-party coalition of Pakistan Democratic Movement, where there is nothing for the poor.
Reacting to the budget for 2023-24 presented by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, PTI spokesman for economy, Muzzammil Aslam, said the ruling coalition should not have given the budget for the whole year as its term is going to be completed on August 13.
However, he said the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and its allies have a bad habit of giving a lollypop to masses but one cannot befool all the people all the time, as people have understood the sinister designs behind the budget which is nothing but jugglery of words.
He continued that the increase in salaries of the government employees – which could be hardly one million – were given a lollypop of 30 to 35 pc pay rise, while millions of people who have fallen below the poverty line during this government, were given no relief at all.
Referring to a statement by Hafeez Pasha, a top economist, Aslam said that 100 million people have gone below the poverty line during the one-year rule of the PDM regime, but there was nothing for them in the budget which is shameful.
He said that out of Rs14.5trillion FY24 budget presented by FM Dar, Rs7,303 billion will go for debt servicing which means 50 percent of the country’s total budget will be spent on interest payment.
About the Economic Survey, he said that the party expected Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to hand over his resignation and apologise to the nation for unleashing record-high 38 per cent inflation on the citizens, crippling the economy with 0% growth and taking the economy on the brink of default with the SBP reserves falling below $4 billion.
Under the PDM government, he added, economic activity has collapsed to a standstill with 0% growth in the current year (0.3% to be exact), compared to two years of nearly 6% growth under the PTI government.
“The epic failure of the PDM government has led to a “never seen before” crisis with eight million workers becoming unemployed in FY2023, the unemployment rate rising to 10 per cent, and causing nearly 18 million households to fall below the poverty line,” he said.
“To hide his colossal failures Ishaq Dar likes to throw around random numbers and desperately spin fairy tales, as the finance minister cannot even differentiate between nominal GDP and GDP calculated on a purchasing power parity basis. But no one is buying his mumbo jumbo.
The IMF has refused to do business with the PDM government, the global markets have shut their doors to Pakistan and even his own party men are openly questioning the stories being spun by Dar,“ he added.
He went on to say that the national accounts committee once again reaffirmed the strong economic performance under the PTI government, as the GDP growth numbers for the last two years of the PTI government have been adjusted higher with the final growth for FY2021 estimated at 5.8% (from 5.7% earlier) and for FY2022 GDP growth has been revised to 6.1% (from 5.97% earlier).
This reaffirms the fact that the economy was experiencing the highest levels of growth in the last 17 years and lays to rest all lies peddled by the PDM government about the PTI government’s economic performance. PTI is the only government since 2007 which achieved two consecutive years of average 6% growth.
“Growth under the PTI government was broad-based with all sectors of the economy posting record output. Agriculture sector growth of 4.3% in FY22, is the highest since FY2005.
Major crops registered growth of 8.2% which is also the highest since FY2005. This was driven by the National Agriculture emergency program with a focus on upgrading irrigation systems and helping farmers achieve timely payments. The large-scale manufacturing sector posted growth of 11.9% in FY2022, which is even higher than the 11.5% growth in FY21,“ he added.
He said that this is the first time since FY2005 that the industry posted two consecutive years of more than 11% growth. This was driven by record $ 32.5bn exports and 22% growth in credit to the private sector in FY2022.
“As a result of the high growth, record job creation was witnessed under the PTI government. According to the PBS Labor Force Survey 2021, a total of 5.5 million new jobs were created in the first three years of the PTI government. On average 1.84 million jobs were created each year, which is nearly double the average 1.1 million jobs created under the PMLN government (2013-2018),” the spokesperson stated.
He said that while the economy has been thrown into a free fall under the PDM government, the central government debt has skyrocketed by Rs15.6 trillion in just 13 months. The scale of this is truly shocking and showcases the reckless policies pursued by the PDM regime.
He said that similarly, the circular debt has increased by Rs500bn in the first nine months of the PDM government, whereas, it registered a decrease of 1% in FY2022 under the PTI government. “When the PTI government was removed in FY2022, FBR tax collection had increased to Rs6.1 trillion, a growth of 30% (inflation of only 12.2%).
Under the PDM government, the FBR is unlikely to even achieve the Rs7 trillion mark in the current fiscal year. The collapse of the industry and restrictions on international trade have led to a sharp slowdown in tax collection, with FBR revenues growing at only 16% (despite average inflation of 29.2%),“ the spokesperson added. “These regressive tax measures have unleashed unprecedented inflation on the masses.
Headline inflation skyrocketed to 38% in May 2023, compared to 12.7% (March 2022) under the PTI government. Kitchen expenditures especially of the poorest households have increased more sharply by 45% under the PDM regime,“ he added.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023