Islamabad, 2nd December 2021: Parliamentary Leader of the PPP in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman said, “The last three years of this government have been disastrous, as the whirlwind of economic policies that have been implemented have resulted in a perfect storm of multiple economic disasters; the government has wilfully put the economy on the ventilator due to regressive taxes and triggered an inflationary spiral. All economic factors point towards a failure in governance, be it the $5.107 billion trade deficit or the falling PKR which is now at 176.65 and is putting immense pressure on the current account deficit. The dangerous double-digit inflation rate now stands at a whopping 11.5%, haunting the public that is already exhausted from unemployment and poverty. Whether it is the record-breaking debt, extortionate petrol prices, perilous trade deficit or the plunging value of the PKR; our economy is on a ventilator “.
Condemning the surging inflation rate, she said, “Due to the constant inflation bombs, Pakistanis are forced to choose between gas for heat during the winter, education for their children, food on their plates or petrol for the bikes. Now, the inflation rate has surged to a shocking 11.5% from 9.2%, which is the highest recorded increase in the past 21 months. Food inflation is at an abysmal 11.2% compared to 10.8% last month. Public misery is becoming immeasurable and the government’s moot responses leave much to be desired. Contrary to the government’s self-congratulatory statements of establishing a “Welfare State,” 43% of Pakistanis cite inflation as their biggest source of concern, while 87% believe that Pakistan is headed in the wrong direction.”
“In one year alone, the price of flour has increased by 26.58%, the price of oil has increased by 45.85% and petrol price has increased by 44.43%, with all other commodity prices following suit. Despite this, the government is hell-bent on announcing a mini-budget as per the blind instructions of the IMF. What the country needs is to get rid of this incompetent government, not dictation from the IMF.” Further discussing the tariff rates, she said, “Now there is an enormous Rs4.74 per unit hike in electricity tariff, putting overwhelming burden on the people who are already suffering due to soaring inflation, record fuel prices, and an ongoing gas crisis,” Rehman added.
She said, “The PTI government conveniently shifts the blame onto the opposition without addressing the obvious cracks in the foundation, which are a result of the government’s own inability to enact stabilising economic policies. PTIMF has increased the country’s total debt and liabilities by 70% in the last 39 months. Before 2018, every Pakistani was indebted by Rs 144,000 which has now reached Rs 235,000 due to the disturbing rate at which this government has amassed debt. The same individuals that made claims that a PTI-led government would not take loans have taken loans of Rs 20.7 trillion in just 3 years, Rs 14 billion per day – another record-breaking figure. As the PKR continues to devalue against the USD the loans will pile up, import costs will skyrocket and the current account deficit will balloon even further than its current value of Rs5.1 billion for just the first four months of FY22.”
Talking about the massive trade deficit, the senator said, “Since this government came into power in 2018, the PKR has devalued by over Rs 50 and has broken another record of devaluation as the PKR surged to 176.65 in the interbank market. The rising trade deficit is creating an enormous domino effect, exposing fault lines in Pakistan’s macroeconomic policies. For the 5th consecutive month, Pakistan’s trade deficit has reached an all-time high at $5.107 billion in November, against $1.946b last year – a whopping 162.4% increase due to the severe imbalance in the imports and exports. A painful further devaluation in the PKR is now inevitable. Why was the “data on imports” still being analysed by the Ministry of Commerce? The PTI government is spreading a false narrative by mentioning the historic rise in exports and further rubbing salt on the public’s wounds as they continue to conceal the increase in imports by over 94% and its devastating impact on the trade deficit and the already plummeting PKR. For the July-November period, the trade deficit rose to $20.746bn, in the same period last year the trade deficit stood at $9.549bn. On average, the trade deficit grew by $4.15 bn per month. At this rate, by the end of FY22, the trade deficit will be at $50bn. It is shocking that the PTI government has been importing agricultural products for a country known for its thriving agrarian sector”.
“To further exacerbate the situation, the government plans to add an additional Rs4 to the petroleum levy every month and already decided on an increase in electricity tariff of Rs4.74 per unit. It is shocking that the domestic oil price has not changed since November 5th, when it was increased by over Rs 8 to Rs145.82 per litre, at the time brent oil price was $82.47/bbl but now there has been a drastic decrease in brent oil which stands at $70.01/bbl. The government had a duty to provide much-needed relief to the people of the country and the ability to reasonably lower petrol prices by Rs5 to 8 – yet no action was taken despite OGRA recommendations. The government is levying a tax of over Rs27 per litre on petrol and over Rs 33 on diesel. It is shocking that there will be an increase in petroleum levy by Rs4 every month, under the IMF’s conditions. If the government does not bring down the oil price to adjust for international oil prices and keep increasing levy, petroleum prices will reach Rs200 per litre soon.” she added.
Vice President PPP, Senator Sherry Rehman concluded by saying, “There is an urgent need for Pakistan to revamp our economic policies as the tenure of the current government has led to an economy in freefall and endless adversities for the Pakistani people. Unfortunately, PTI has proven itself to be incompetent with regard to both the economy and the welfare of the people. The last 3 years of this government have been a story of incompetence, serial mismanagement, and rampant corruption. The PTI government has failed to curb soaring debt, inflation and unemployment. No true relief has been provided to the people. As the PKR continues to devalue at an alarming rate – Pakistan’s economy is fast crumbling. PTI is running on borrowed time.”