Islamabad, January 18, 2020: In her Senate speech, Parliamentary Leader of the PPP in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman said, “Instead of addressing my concerns over the LNG fiasco, the concerned Minister blamed the last governments, attacked the opposition as usual and ignored the real issue. He must answer why they did not purchase gas through Forward Contract Premium for $4- 4.5 which they could have easily supplied in the winters? Why was this opportunity missed?”
“According to official statistics, the price of wheat per kilo has increased from 35 rupees to 85 rupees. Sugar prices have increased from 55 rupees per kilo to 110 rupees. Electricity was 9 rupees per unit and now it is for 20 rupees per unit. Petrol has increased from 85 rupees per litre to 110 rupees. This has all happened under Tabahi sarkar,” She added while addressing the issue of inflation.
Rehman questioned, “The PTI government has approved an increase of Rs 3.2 per litre in the price of petrol and this is the third time in four weeks that fuel prices have been increased. Why is this being done? Is this another mini budget? Petrol levy has been increased despite the consumers already paying two types of taxes on petrol. This government has doubled its reliance on petroleum levy as a source of revenue – from 260 billion rupees realized in the revised estimates of last year to 450 billion rupees budgeted for the current year. The petrol inquiry report which estimated Rs 250b worth of oil smuggling from Iran and numerous other controversial operations has conveniently been forgotten. It is obvious that they got an NRO over it. We’ve had no shortage of scams- wheat, sugar and now LNG has been added to the list”.
“Who will be answerable for the NROs being given to PTI’s ministers and cronies? It’s easy to point fingers at the opposition and say that we are running from NAB but this is far from the truth. No one is running away from accountability and President Zardari is an example of this.
But for any accountability to have legitimacy or meaning it has to be more than a one-sided witch hunt. Despite inquiry after inquiry in multiple scams this government just shuffles its ministers around in a musical chairs charade. They neither have to face NAB nor answer for the billions lost in commodity scandals, nor the pain inflicted on the people of Pakistan via their criminal negligence.
Other questions also need to be answered. What about the $28 million paid by NAB? 200 people were named in the Broadsheet case but some of them got NROs and the rest plea bargained. Why have a lot of names been removed? This was done to break the two biggest political parties of this country; PPP and PML-N. Broadsheet was not engaged for assets recovery. Now we find out that the government has paid around 1.5 million dollars to an unauthorised individual and his fake firm. Is the government sleeping or it just doesn’t care? Broadsheet’s owner Maussavi has said that he has shared with PM’s adviser Shahzad Akbar information about $1 billion money laundering by an influential person in Pakistan. Where is the inquiry over this?” she asked.
Criticizing the government over their delay in procuring Covid-19 vaccines, Senator Rehman said, “There is news that $70 billion have been allocated for Covid vaccines but then we find out that the government has neither placed any final order to acquire COVID-19 vaccine nor any vaccine manufacturer has accepted the country’s request for the supply of vaccine. India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia, have all taken steps to ensure that their population gets vaccinated. What has Tabahi sarkar done?”
“LNG is not being imported on time, orders for Covid vaccine have not been given on time. What import is then on its way to Pakistan? The PTI government borrowed a record of $16 billion in just one year. This government is responsible for a debt of Rs 35.5 trillion which means that they have added around Rs 11 trillion. Even if we combine the previous two governments, this is unmatched. Debt is now around 85% of our GDP. Is there any end to this? You have crossed all ratios and lines. Food inflation is around 20%” she added.
Quoting Ipsos, Consumer Confidence Survey (Q4; 2020), she said “4 in 5 Pakistanis continue to worry that the country is heading in the wrong direction; Increase in inflation is the most worrying issue for every 1 in 3 Pakistanis, followed by unemployment; 7 in 10 Pakistanis dissatisfied with the way things are going in country today; only 1 in 10 Pakistanis rated current local economy as strong. This is the sad state of affairs we are living in”
“Now in a shocking turn of events, PIA’s aircraft has been held back by Malaysian authorities due to a British court case over the jet’s lease. If you can’t give lease payments, you do not get into litigation. You do not go to court when you have not paid your lease, any experienced administrator will tell you that. What are you taking loans for if you can’t even pay the lease? Where is that money going? This is mismanagement of an unprecedented proportion. This incompetence is dazzling. First the aviation minister crashed the airline with his ill-informed remarks. Now our routes have been taken up by other airlines. What is going on?” said Rehman while discussing PIA’s downfall.
The Parliamentary Leader of the PPP in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman concluded by saying, “We need answers on sugar-wheat scandal, petrol inquiry and LNG crisis. Everything is being brushed under the rug. NROs are being given to each other but accountability should be across the board and they must give us credible answers. Committees should be called”.