No rift within govt circles over mini-budget

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Says finance bill passage to ensure IMF programme revival, loans from other global lenders
KARACHI
Ruling out any rift within the government circles over over the mini-budget, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has said the passage of the Finance (Supplementary) Bill 2021 will revive the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.
Addressing a press conference on Sunday, the minister said that passage of the finance bill will ensure release of $1 billion tranche by the IMF, which will help stabilise the economy and the exchange rate. Besides the IMF, the bill will also pave the way for the release of money from other global money lending institutions that would play a key role in the economic revival.
Fawad said giving the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) autonomy was part of the PTI’s manifesto. “We are not subletting the central bank to the IMF,” he said, adding that the board of governors of the SBP will be appointed by the government.
He said the PTI government didn’t borrow even a single rupee from the SBP over the past three years unlike the PML-N government that had “asked [the] SBP to print trillions of rupees.” “We believe in independent institutions and autonomy granted to the SBP will benefit Pakistan,” the minister added.
Speaking about inflation, he said that in the global market energy prices are showing a downward trend that would eventually translate into relief for the public. He further said that global food prices are also coming down, which will consequently ease inflation in Pakistan. He added that Pakistan has to import ghee, cooking oil and pulses because the agriculture sector was ignored by previous governments.
“However, [the] PTI has revived the sector over the past two years and we had five bumper crops this year,” he added. As a result of these bumper crops, farmers got Rs1,100 billion, the minister added.
He claimed that the economy will grow at a rate of 5 percent during 2022. “We have revived the agriculture and industrial sectors,” he said, adding, “The economy is back on track [and] 2022 is the year of Pakistan’s prosperity.”
Fawad said that 100 major companies of Pakistan, including that owned by PML-N leader Miftah Ismail, earned Rs929 billion in profits whereas the profits of media houses witnessed a 33 percent increase.
He said that the private sector is not increasing the salaries of its workers despite record profits and urged it to give its employees a pay raise amid these times of inflation.

The information minister criticised the PML-N and PPP government for taking over Rs27 trillion in loans in 10 years. He said that the total debt of Pakistan rose from Rs6 trillion in 2008 to Rs27 trillion in 2018. According to Fawad, the PTI has returned $32 billion in loans and is expected to repay $55 billion in its five-year tenure.

About the return of Nawaz Sharif, the minister said that Shehbaz Sharif who had given a guarantee for the return of his brother should be asked by the court to bring him back. If Shehbaz fails to do so then he should be jailed for not complying with terms of the affidavit, he added.

Earlier in a tweet on Sunday, the information minister said that the health card facility is now fully available in Lahore division. He said that all families residing in Punjab will be eligible for availing medical treatment annually up to one million rupees in the next 45 days. The minister said the government will bear all the expenses on health treatment of the people under this revolutionary programme. TLTP