ISLAMABAD: PTI Senator and former finance minister said on Friday that during the previous government the economy was right on track and the political turmoil in the last couple of months derailed it and placed the country as well as the masses into a serious financial crisis.
Addressing a news conference along with former energy minister Hammad Azhar, he said economy was moving in the right direction in March 2022. “I told this to those who matter in the power corridors that economy was on the right track and if there was any political turmoil (garbar), this economic growth trajectory could break too,” he said.
“I told this to those who matter in the power corridors that economy was on the right track and if there was any political interference, this economic growth trajectory could break too,” he said. “And [then] it happened. Within two months, they broke the economic cycle,” he added.
He said the current setup has failed to manage the economy and the only option is to hold fresh elections as soon as possible.
“They have to understand that they cannot simply drop such bombs on the citizens and that they should resign and hold fresh elections,” the former finance minister said, in an apparent reference to the recent heavy increase in prices of petroleum products and electricity.
The previous PML-N government had left a current account deficit of around $20 billion and as a result, the PTI government was forced to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), recalled Mr Tarin.
He said the then prime minister Imran Khan had announced a plan to freeze fuel and electricity prices up to July and even lower them by Rs10. “We had a plan to cover the gap,” he claimed, adding: “The plan was to get cheap Russian oil and PM Khan had discussions over it with President Vladimir Putin.” He added that Russian oil would be Rs40-50 per litre cheaper, but they could not buy it, as it would have annoyed the US and this is what they could not afford.
“We had plans to give targeted subsidies, and the refinery margins were lowered to Rs14 per litre, but now they have been raised to Rs70 per litre for diesel and more than Rs50 for petrol,” the former minister said.
He added that these refineries were pocketing a huge sum of money, and added that 60 per cent of diesel and 25pc of petrol consumed in the country were locally produced.
Mr Tarin also highlighted the social sector reforms undertaken by the former PTI government.
“When we used to increase by Rs1 or 3 per litre there was a serious reaction by these PDM parties. Miftah Ismail sahab and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi sahab used to say it was a petrol bomb on the masses. Now the increase of Rs60 per litre should be termed as dropping an atom bomb on the masses,” Mr Tarin said.
Meanwhile, Mr Azhar termed the incumbent government as an “imposed setup.”
“A false and incorrect narrative that was established when they were in the opposition has been exposed now,” the former energy minister said, adding that the PTI government had decided to purchase oil at discounted rates from Russia from April.
“But these cartoons sitting at the helm of affairs claim that Pakistan has no money to buy Russian oil. PSO has purchased oil at spot rates in recent months at a very high price,” Mr Azhar said.
He lamented that the finance minister did not know that there were no sanctions on buying oil from Russia, but even Sri Lanka was buying oil from Russia.
Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2022