ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said on Saturday real freedom meant economic self-reliance, without which the concept of freedom and self-reliance was not achieved.

While accusing his predecessor Shaukat Tarin of “not stating facts”, Mr Ismail told a press conference the PTI government took 79 per cent of external debt out of the total debt taken in the country’s history.

He said during the PTI tenure, Pakistan’s imports jumped to record $80 billion while the trade deficit reached an unprecedented $48bn in FY22.

Reacting to Mr Tarin’s presser at a Karachi Press Club early in the day, Mr Miftah wondered how PTI could talk about real freedom without achieving economic self-sufficiency.

Accuses Tarin of not stating facts

Earlier, Mr Tarin advised the PMLN-led coalition government to approach Russia for oil “that’s available at a discount of 30-40pc”.

Mr Ismail said the former PTI government was leading the country towards default and the 13-party administration saved it country from bankruptcy.

“We have saved the country from Sri Lanka-like situation, where petrol and gas are blacking out,” he said.

He said the PTI made agreements with the IMF to make electricity and oil more expensive, the effect of which continued even during our government’s tenure. PTI government raised Rs19,000bn in loans in its tenure, he added.

The minister said the country was passing through a critical juncture after the floods while the PTI was investing $25,000 per month for lobbying which is against the national interest in the current situation. He said former Prime Minister Imran Khan did not fulfil any of his promises, including the construction of five million houses.

The finance minister mai­n­tained that the government was distributing Rs25,000 to 4m families each in the flood-hit areas at the total cost of Rs70bn.

Cotton, sugarcane and date crops had been destroyed in Sindh, Mr Ismail said, adding that the governm­ent would import tomatoes and onions from Turkiye and Afg­hanistan and that inf­lation would be controlled in the next couple of months.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2022

Categorized in: