Defending the PTI government’s economic policies, Minister for Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has said Pakistan was facing an economic crisis when the PTI took up reigns and the government had to seek help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to meet government expenditures.
“When the PTI came into power it was faced with an economic crisis that was brewing due to the policies of the previous governments. In order to tackle this crisis we had to seek help from the IMF,” Dr Shaikh said on Monday while addressing the Senate.
The minister said the past and the present are interconnected and in order to understand the present, one has to know the past. He claimed that one of the reasons for this economic crisis was the last PML-N government’s policy to artificially jack up the value of the rupee against the US dollar.
“In order to maintain the value of the rupee, the PML-N government had to pump US dollars into the market and because of this policy Pakistan’s foreign currency reserves were less than $2billion when the PTI took up the reins of government.
“We had to go to the IMF in order to pay off the interest on previous loans and to meet government expenditure. Pakistan has spent Rs6,000 billion to pay off interest on the foreign loans,” he added.
According to the finance minister, in this situation the government had to make tough and difficult decisions in order to revive the economy.
He said the government had to freeze the military spending, did not increase salaries of government servants and desisted from issuing any supplementary grant. The government also did not borrow a single penny from the State Bank of Pakistan.
“When you visit a doctor you have to bear the pain of injections. The patients have to practice abstinence in some cases. We should not disappoint people by fighting each other,” he added.
The minister said it will take some time to reduce inflation. He said no one has praised the big decision taken by the government for economic revival.
Addressing the opposition lawmakers, Dr Shaikh said those people who are criticizing the government cannot be more concerned for the welfare of people than Prime Minister Imran Khan. He claimed that Pakistan’s economy fared better than the Indian economy during the coronavirus pandemic.