Prosperity mantra

Speaking at a function in Islamabad, the Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal claimed that the country is fast heading towards economic stability and the indicators of prosperity are visible from Gilgat to Chittral,, and Gawdar to Karachi. He said the whole world admits that Pakistan’s economy is progressing. He lamented that the so called economic wizard Ishaq Dar is being insulted for no reason, suggesting that he should have been rewarded for putting the economy on the road to stability.

The claim of the Interior Minister does not match when tested by the grave macro economic imbalances, alarming current account deficit, $ 90 billion foreign debt and cumulative debt burden of Rs. 21 thousand billion. The recent depreciation of Pakistani Rupee against US dollar and other hard currencies has added a further burden of Rs.700 billion to the imminent debt trap. Word Bank has predicted that Pakistan would need $ 32 billion to meet its external payment liabilities alone what to speak of financial resources generation for the current and development expenditures in the next fiscal year to bridge the budget deficit. To shore up the fast depleting foreign exchange reserves, short term commercial loans at very high interest rate are being acquired from Pakistani and foreign banks besides floating Euro and Sukuk Bonds worth $ 2.5 billion in the European and American markets for which the governor State Bank and federal Secretary finance held two road shows. These are the bold indication of economic disaster set in motion by the former finance Minister Ishaq Dar, for whom a Pride of Performance medal is sought for by the Interior Minister.

China who is building thermal power plants under the umbrella of CPEC has insisted on agreement at the earliest between Pakistani agencies in the power sector and Chinese sponsors for addressing timely payment of electricity charges.. In accordance with governmental agreement on energy cooperation between the two sides, a revolving bank account should be created with in 30 days after commercial operation date of the energy projects. China has also demanded not to adopt differential electricity charges policy towards CPEC power projects designed and constructed to Chinese standards, technology and equipment. These conditions agreed in the 7th meeting of Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) on November 21 reflect the apprehensions of China about deteriorating economic situation by the mismanagement of the economy by the PML-N government over the past four and a half years.

Another example of mortgaging the economy with the international lending agency is that the draft of the Bill titled Pakistan Petroleum Exploration and Production Regulatory Authority Act has been authored by a consultant of World Bank. This bill will be presented in the meeting of Council of Common interest before it is tabled in the National Assembly. Was there not any legal and constitutional expert available in Pakistan who could have drafted this bill ensuring the interest of the country viz-a-viz the multinational petroleum companies? Is it not surrendering the economic sovereignty to a lender agency? PPP Senator Farhat ullah Babar filed an adjournment motion in the Upper House, Senate describing this bill violation of Article 172 (3) and other introduced in the Constitution under 18th amendment. He said that this is being done under the advice of World Bank to grant and monitor all petroleum concessions and upstream activities in the country. Responding to the adjournment motion, State Minister for petroleum conceded in the Senate that the draft of Petroleum Exploration and Production Regulatory Authority Bill had been drafted by a World Bank consultant. Hence the claim that the present government has made the country economically stable is not compatible with ground realities.

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