Charter of Economy idea merits urgent consideration

Published: 03:47 PM, 13 Jan, 2022
Charter of Economy idea merits urgent consideration
Caption: Representational image.
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The Finance (Supplementary) Bill 2021, or the min budget, introduced by the PTI government seeking to amend certain laws related to taxes and duties and the State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill 2021 for the sake of $1billion tranche from the IMF has further intensified confrontation between the government and the opposition parties. 

The mini-budget will end tax exemptions on various goods to generate over Rs350 billion in taxes. 

The PTI not only vehemently defends the move as inevitable because of the economic situation it says it had inherited from the predecessor PML-N government, but the opposition parties are also determined to resist tooth and nail the anti-people step. Some PTI allies have also expressed reservations about the move. 

Opposition parties are also ready to stage protests outside the parliament. The opposition parties say – and rightly so – that the mini-budget would raise the prices of all important items, as a result of which the life of the poor would become further miserable. 

The fact is that inflation has already made the survival of the common man difficult and they are waiting for urgent measures that could bring them some relief. They want some miracle to happen to change the situation for them. 

Since both the houses of parliament are in session at present, it is high time for the ruling and the opposition parties to decide what should be done to save the people from the back-breaking inflation

A mere exchange of taunts, full-throat blame-game going on at present would not mitigate the sufferings of the inflation victims. 

It will not be wrong to say that it is the duty of the elected representatives on both sides of the aisle to work out a solution – no matter what they have to sacrifice for the purpose. They should exchange ideas on what should be done to deal with the IMF and withdraw the mini-budget. 

In the prevailing situation, the idea of a Charter of Economy proposed by PML-N president Mian Shehbaz Shehbaz Sharif and former president Asif Ali Zardari on various occasions needs serious consideration

While addressing the NA session on Wednesday, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari recalled that the PTI leadership ignored the CoE idea and made unilateral decisions. 

“Had you listened to Shehbaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari this would have benefitted you as you’d be representing Pakistan, not just a government or a political party,” the young PPP chairman said.   

“But you chose to sacrifice common people at the altar of your ego,” he regretted. 

Oxford-educated Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also said that never in the history of Pakistan had there been so many negative economic indicators. “When we were fighting a war, when the country split into two, or when it was facing sanctions, the economic growth never hit a negative 0.4,” he said. 

He said: "The PTI has broken all records"  

“Naya Pakistan means unemployment, poverty, and inflation,” the PPP chairman said, adding that this is not “tabdeeli" (change) but “tabahi” (destruction). 

Leaders of the Opposition Mian Shehbaz Sharif’s speech delivered a day before was equally blistering.  

He called the Imran Khan government “the most incompetent in the country's history”. According to him, last month witnessed the biggest trade deficit.  

"Circular debt has increased to a record Rs27 billion, which was Rs11 billion during our party's rule", he said, giving a comparison. 

The PML-N president said the electricity tariff was increased thrice during the PTI tenure which has caused destruction. 

"Some people are happy at the economic progress that they say Pakistan is making under Imran Khan’s rule," the former Punjab chief minister said, sarcasm visible from his tone and gestures. But, he said, the fact is that this government has no control whatsoever over circular debt, dollar [rate], inflation, or the increasing unemployment in the country, he added. 

"So, the question is what exactly they are capable of bringing under control?" he asked and went on to call the government the "most incompetent, lethargic and ‘manhoos’ (wretched) in Pakistan's history". 

The PML-N and the PPP should give some salient features of the Charter of Economy they have in their minds.  Its publication would enlighten the masses about its practicality and bring the government under pressure to sign it without delay. 

The ruling party’s reluctance would only deprive it of public support in future. 

Ashraf Mumtaz

The writer is the Deputy Editor of 24 Digital.