ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar on Friday said the country’s economy was on the right track for which the entire credit goes to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf for ensuring transparent and corruption-free governance.
Speaking in the National Assembly, the minister said oil prices in Pakistan were the lowest as compared to the world and Petroleum Development Levy has been brought down to two percent. He said that sales tax was 51 percent on petroleum products during PML-N tenure while it is 17 percent at present.
Responding to the speech of PPPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, he said that figures given by him on poverty and unemployment were full of contradictions. He reminded the PPPP Chairman that the inflation rate in their era was much higher than the present .It was the PPPP that went to the IMF more than any other government in the past, he added. “Inflation rate was 21 percent during the first year of PPPP government while it was 11.7 percent in the second year, 13.7 percent in third year and 11 percent in fourth year of its tenure”.
Hammad Azhar said the country’s economy has entered into the growth phase with foreign exchange reserves standing at six years high. Referring to the bumper crops of wheat and sugarcane and maize, he said the benefit of this directly reached the farmers as we ensured that they get the due price of their produce.The minister said we had a comprehensive plan to address the capacity payments in the power sector. He said the present government enhanced the capacity of power transmission system and one hundred billion rupees have been allocated in the budget to further improve it. He said that federal government was giving 550 MW electricity to the K-electric on daily basis.
Hammad Azhar implied that oratory skills were not enough to remove the stains of corruption from someone’s character. “Those who have never done anything to improve the country’s economy and have no knowledge thereof delivered an immature speech on the government’s budget and economic policies,” he said.
He asked the Opposition to go through the budget documents once again and point out what taxes, as they claim, have been levied in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. “It looks like the Opposition is having a hard time digesting that the country has achieved a 4% growth under the rule of the PTI,” said Azhar, adding that the PPPP could not even achieve 1% growth during its five-year tenure. Referring to the speech of PPPP Chairman, he said “ they said to us that this is a government of ‘puppets’. Do they want a government of convicts? Do they want a government in which people are known not by their names but by the dirtiest scandals in the history of this country?”
He said that the PTI had come into power after being elected, adding that it had not “threatened or bribed its way into government”.
He said that Bilawal had talked about the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) but it’s chairperson had recently been declared a proclaimed offender due to corruption of Rs. 1.5 billion. Some people, he said, were only getting stipends from BISP due to their affiliation with the PPP while names of hundreds of well-off people were omitted from the list of BISP after audit, Azhar said. Through Ehsas program, the minister said that 16 million were provided financial relief during last year.
He said that Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) was closed down during the tenure of PML-N in 2015 while allegations were being levelled against the present government. He said that subsidy is being given on urea as usual while the prices of Di-ammonium Phosphate (DAP) were defined by International forces as 70 percent of DAP is imported. The minister said that PTI endeavored during the first two years for stabilization of economy while economy is in growth phase during the third year. He said that loan of 10-12 billion dollar is being returned annually while current account deficit was reduced.
Hammad Azhar said that international rating agencies had appreciated the economic progress of the country while Pakistan set precedent for rest of the world in combating the COVID-19. He said that industries in Pakistan were expanding due to policies of the government while the agriculturists are also satisfied due to immediate payment to them of their produce.
The minister said that small provinces had been given more share in Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) while dams like Dasu and Diamir Basha were on priority of the government. He said that steps were taken to fulfill the conditions of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and there was no chance to include country in black list due to the prudent policies of the government.
The government, he said, introduced structural reforms and country and exports of the country has also increased.