ISLAMABAD: Senator Sherry Rehman on Monday expressed grave concern over the state of public finances and the “lack of vision” that defined the mini-budget presented by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.
“Pakistan’s economic situation is critical and the mini-budget does not even pretend to address the enormity of the crises we are facing. After all the claims of bringing real change, the actual plan falls short of providing answers to the bigger questions that spell imminent danger to the economy,” she said in a statement issued here.
Criticising the government’s lack of clarity for its long-term economic plan, the senator said, “The most crucial challenge, which is to reduce the country’s reliance on external borrowing, has not been addressed. Pakistan’s total external debt and liabilities now stand at $95 billion or 30% of the GDP which is dangerously unsustainable.”
“It is alarming that to this day, we still have not heard what the government plans to do. How will the $9 billion needed to meet Pakistan’s current account deficit be financed? Will Pakistan knock on IMF’s doors again or rely on other means to reduce the country’s debts? This ambiguity is causing uncertainty in the markets.”
Referring to the proposed adjustments providing protection to non-filers by allowing them to resume buying property and automobiles, Rehman said, “The biggest disappointment was the message given to those who don’t pay taxes. This will not compel people to pay taxes and ignores Pakistan’s fundamental challenge of widening the tax net.”
“It is also noteworthy that in order to meet the Rs814 billion fiscal adjustment, the government decided to slash the development funds by Rs225 billion but added Rs234 billion to the non-development budget, therefore almost negating the effect of the development fund cut. This does not add up. PPP had to deal with a 3.1pc of GDP adjustment in our first year in office,” she added.