Shaukat Tarin slams govt’s budget, warns of more unemployment

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Ex-finance minister and PTI Shaukat Tarin addressing a press conference alongside former power minister Omar Ayub (left) and PTI spokesperson on economy and finance Muzzammil Aslam (right). — YouTube/HumNewsLive
Ex-finance minister and PTI Shaukat Tarin addressing a press conference alongside former power minister Omar Ayub (left) and PTI spokesperson on economy and finance Muzzammil Aslam (right). — YouTube/HumNewsLive

ISLAMABAD: Former finance minister Senator Shaukat Tarin Saturday slammed the coalition government’s budget for the fiscal year 2022-23 and warned of more unemployment in the days to come.

In a press conference flanked by PTI leaders, the former finance minister said PTI’s tenure witnessed “record growth” in several sectors and the government was misleading the people by claiming they face an uphill task on the economic front.

“All the numbers are published and public. Please take the country’s economy seriously and stop misleading the people. The numbers don’t lie despite your ‘spin doctory’,” said Senator Tarin.

The former finance minister told the journalists that during PTI’s tenure, the country’s debt did not increase by 80%, it moved up by 76%. He said although the loans were substantial, the country’s economy went up by the same margin.

“When you took over the government after PPP, it was your government that increase the overall loans by 80%, have you forgotten that?” Tarin asked the PML-N — the major player in the coalition government.

The former finance minister said PTI created 5.5 million jobs during its tenure, which means that the ousted government was able to create 1.84 million jobs annually, while PML-N created 1.1 million and PPP 1.4 million.

“If you look at the data, our remittances, exports, and textile sector witnessed record growth. We did all this, but they included it in their Economic Survey,” said the senator.

The former finance minister said it is because of the PTI that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) clocked in at 6%, but the government, in the budget for the fiscal year 2022-23, has projected it to be 5%.

The Shehbaz Sharif-led coalition government yesterday unveiled the “toughest” federal budget for fiscal year 2022-23 with an outlay of Rs9.5 trillion amid strict conditions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the revival of the $6 billion loan programme stalled since months over policy breaches.

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, while presenting the budget proposals, berated the “incompetent” PTI-led government for its performance, saying that the current budget focuses on “sustainable and inclusive growth”.

But Tarin said the coalition government has eyed 3.9% growth in the agriculture sector, which clocked in at 4.4% during PTI’s tenure. “And they are talking about such a growth when they have created a water crisis and fertilizers are at record prices — there will not be even 3.9%.”

Finance Minister Mifath, speaking on Geo News programme “Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath”, said that the government did not want growth at the cost of ballooning current account deficit and widening the fiscal deficit — that is why they have set modest growth targets for the next fiscal year.

However, Tarin said as the government, in the new budget, has revoked the concession — provided to the industries by PTI — the country would not witness a growth in the unemployment rate.

“You cannot witness a growth of 7.1% in this sector. Your factories will shut down and employment will increase gradually,” the former finance minister said.

Talking about inflation, Tarin added that the sensitive price index (SPI) has reached 24%, and once there is an increase in petrol, gas, and power prices, the SPI will be 25-30%.

“Once the inflation reaches 25-30%, then the businesses cannot prosper as discount rates will also go up,” he said, adding that there will be another wave of inflation.

Regarding the independent power producer, the former finance minister said: “Our capacity payment was Rs850 billion which will increase up to Rs1,450 billion next year. However, the government has allocated Rs550 billion in the budget for the capacity payment. How will the rest of the amount be paid?’

The PTI leader warned that the government will increase the price of petrol and if the price of electricity and gas is increased then inflation will go up by 20-24%. He further added that an increase in diesel prices will also affect transport.

Commenting on the proposed allocations of the budget, Tarin said that the government has over-budgeted several things.

‘Industrial activities may halt’

Speaking on the occasion, former energy minister Omar Ayub also talked about the rising inflation and said that the industrial activities will come to a halt.

“The prices of diesel and petrol will go up to Rs300 and Rs310 per litre while the price of electricity will be increased by Rs39-40 per unit with additional taxes,” he added.

Ayub said that the incumbent government is going to bring down the business community. He added that the pressure will increase on the rupee and the government will fail to meet their targets.

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