May 23, 2022
ISLAMABAD – Former finance minister Shaukat Tarin on Sunday said the incumbent government has lost “credibility” before the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as it is struggling to strike a deal, claiming “they are now seeking help from us”.
Tarin’s comments come in the backdrop of the coalition government’s ongoing talks with the IMF over the release of a $1 billion tranche under an Extended Fund Facility, a process slowed by concerns about the pace of economic reforms in the country.
Earlier this week, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail had told the IMF — during the talks — that the government understood the current economic crisis and agreed that it would have to take “tough decisions” while mitigating the effects of inflation on the middle to low-income groups.
At a press conference in Karachi today, Tarin dismissed the claims by the PML-N-led coalition government that the PTI government reneged on its promises made with the IMF. “We, in fact, had renegotiated the deal. But the IMF is not trusting this new government and they are now asking us to help.”
The ex-minister said the PTI wanted a strong interim government to be in place and hold elections. “When the interim government is there, we will help them and show them the way forward,” he added.
Tarin also said the government was struggling to run affairs.
He stressed that democracy needed consistency and that people’s will was for five years, saying “if someone disturbs this cycle, there will be a reaction”.
He called upon “powers that be” to allow elected governments to complete their five-year term, which he said would be good for the continuity of democracy.
Tarin was of the view that Imran Khan bore the brunt by “refusing to take dictation” for the first time by any leader in 72 years.
Tarin then compared economic figures of the PTI government’s tenure and the PML-N’s five years from 2013 to 2018 and said “the incompetent and the selected government” — an oft-used refrain by PTI opponents to describe it — had defeated its rival on every economic indicator.
Recounting the “feats” PTI achieved during its tenure, he cited the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics as saying the current government had shown the GDP growth rate at 5.97 per cent for the current fiscal year, “while during the corresponding period of the third year of the PML-N’s last government, the growth rate stood at 4.5pc and the next year it had reached 4.6pc.”
He went on to say that exports during the PML-N’s government went below $10bn, and it was at $24bn at the end of the tenure. “We took them to $32bn.”
He recalled the PML-N leaders were raising complaining that the current account deficit would cross $20bn, however, it is currently at $15bn.
“They had left reserves at $9.8bn and we left them at $11.4bn and at the time of no-confidence motion, it was much higher.”
The former minister underlined the PML-N had taken a new debt of $45bn in its tenure, while the PTI government took $34bn. “On what grounds do they claim they are better than us?” he asked.
He said India reduced its oil prices by 25pc a day ago after securing a deal with Russia that Pakistan had agreed to before the ouster of Imran Khan. However, the current rulers “don’t have the courage to invite the wrath of Uncle Sam”. He repeated a claim that was made by Imran on Twitter a day earlier.
Tarin also took exception the government’s decision to ban the imports of luxury items deemed non-essential. He said the decision could have been restricted to a handful of items, “But imposing a blanket ban on a wide range of items has left everyone afraid.”
“If I was in their place, I would have banned a few items for six months and increased duties on other items including dry fruits, etc.”
He also called for revamping the entire system to take forward the country, saying: “I do not believe that this government is going to provide any relief to people.”