Opposition blasts IMF-backed bills, power tariff hike



The opposition parties on Friday lashed out at the PTI-led government for passing the “mini-budget” and the SBP Amendment Bill – to meet critical conditions set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – as well as the increase in the power tariff.

“Yesterday [Thursday] was a black day in country’s parliamentary history as the government imposed a mini-budget on the people already reeling under [a] historic price hike,” PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif wrote on his Twitter account.

He added that the people would not forgive the PTI for making their lives miserable. “The masses will bury them [PTI] with the power of their vote. It’s only a matter of time.” In another tweet, Shehbaz lamented the “cruel” increase of Rs4.30 per unit in the electricity tariff.

“The PTI government remains insensitive to the plight of the people whose lives it has already made hell,” he added. “This regime only listens to and protects the interests of its financiers and donors.”
PML-N senior leaders Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Ahsan Iqbal also criticised the PTI-led government for approving the bills.

Addressing a news conference in Islamabad, Abbasi regretted that the bills were passed during the NA session in haste. The former premier claimed that the PTI-led government was handing over the country’s economic keys to the IMF. “The burden of more than Rs700 billion has been placed on the nation’s shoulder,” he added.
Abbasi claimed that no rules and constitutional guidelines were followed during the voting for the bills and it all happened in the prime minister’s presence. He added that the federal ministers had admitted that they were compelled to pass the bills under pressure from the IMF.

Speaking on the occasion, Iqbal said he had begged before the NA speaker that the SBP bill was against the country but it was approved “in violation of all the rules and regulations”. He recalled that the finance minister had highlighted the country’s historic tax collection targets six months ago. “But the government has ended up economically suppressing the masses.”

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Iqbal further maintained that the passage of the SBP bill would lead to the “destruction” of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. PML-N leader Miftah Ismail, who was also present on the occasion, said the IMF had asked to reduce the budget deficit. “Instead of taking austerity measures, the government decided to impose further taxes.”

Ismail said that the incumbent government had imposed a tax on chicken feed in the mini-budget. “This will ultimately increase chicken prices in the country too.” He added that tax on medicines had also been imposed. “While tax on bread has been withdrawn, the shopkeepers will have to pay it.”

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman also fired a broadside at the government for passing the mini-budget.
“There will be a tsunami of inflation [after the passage of the mini-budget],” she told reporters.
“The government believes that baby milk, bread, seeds and other basic necessities are luxury items,” she added. “There will be a 12% hike in prices.” Later, in a tweet, she condemned the hike in the power tariff.

“They are receiving ‘incompetence adjustment’ not ‘fuel adjustment’,” she wrote. “An additional Rs35 billion will be charged from consumers.” In a reference to Prime Minister Imran Khan, she further wrote that those who used to burn power bills while standing on a container were themselves looting billions of rupees from consumers every month. The PPP vice president wrote that there was also an expected rise in fuel prices.

“An Inflation bomb will be dropped on the people under the pretext of increasing oil prices in the world market.” She added that the current government had no plan to provide relief to the people. “Now the people will get relief only when this incompetent government goes home.”(With input from agencies)

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