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KARACHI: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leadership has welcomed the IMF Executive Board approval of $ 3 billion Standby Arrangement (SBA) and hoped that this arrangement will bring economic stability to Pakistan, after a painful year of PDM government that has led to record high inflation and created record unemployment.

Addressing a press conference on Friday at Karachi Press Club, Muzammil Aslam, PTI spokesperson on economic affairs has said that the IMF staff report acknowledged that the PTI leadership support has paved the way for the IMF SBA and led to the Board’s approval.

‘As the largest national party in Pakistan, we will always support actions for the benefit of the country and the welfare of the people, despite strong apprehensions about the actions of the PDM government against the citizens and political opponents,” he added.

He said that free and fair elections will be crucial to reduce political uncertainty and build confidence in the economy. Any attempts to delay or sabotage the elections will create further hurdles in the way of stabilizing the economy and financial support from the international development partners, he warned.

IMF staff notes that under the PML-N government the ‘misaligned economic policies including large fiscal deficits, loose monetary policy, and defense of an overvalued exchange rate, eroded macroeconomic stability, increased external and public debt, and depleted international reserves, Muzammil said.

He said that IMF staff once again highlighted the success of the PTI government in managing the COVID pandemic. The IMF report stated that ‘the authorities’ policies proved critical in supporting the economy and saving lives and livelihoods’ from the ‘severe pandemic shock’, he mentioned.

He said that the IMF report is a charge sheet against the disastrous economic policies of the PDM regime. Under the PDM government inflation has continued to rise, due to rising food prices and the past through from the depreciation. In addition, the regressive import restrictions and shortages placed upward pressure on prices. Prices reached a record high, hurting especially the poor with headline inflation reaching 38% in May 2023.

The PTI leadership sees the IMF SBA as an opportunity to protect the weak and vulnerable citizens that have been burdened by record high inflation under the PDM regime, he said and added that the gains from economic stability must be passed on to the citizens and tax policy must seek to address the weak compliance by FBR instead of burdening existing taxpayers.

“We note with concern that several of the reforms taken by the PTI government have been reversed and stalled. Key reforms initiated under PTI including retail sector POS, Track & Trace system for big industries, and Single Window customs facility have all been slowed down deliberately,” he alleged.

More than 43 million potential taxpayers identified by FBR have not been targeted while the government is busy imposing regressive tax measures on the public including raising GST tax rates, he mentioned.

All pro-poor expenditures initiated by the PTI government including Sehat cards, Ehsaas ration schemes, langar & panagahs have been shut down. Today, despite the increase in budget allocations only 7 million households are being provided assistance despite massive inflation and rising unemployment and poverty, he said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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