LAHORE - Former Finance Minister Dr Salman Shah has said that the PPP-led government is behind all the economic mess in the country while the situation was quite excellent during the regime of former despot Pervez Musharraf. He also cited improvement in tax-to-GDP, single-digit interest rate, rising economic growth, record Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and low inflation in their regime as live examples to valid his point. Dr Salman Shah informed the audience while addressing the seminar on Economic Recession held here at Tech Club under the aegis of Tech Society on Sunday. He further hinted that the government would have to go the International Monetary Fund (IMF) once again to revive the fragile economy and to stabilise the economic growth. I think they (the government) will have to sign a new agreement with the IMF. But this should be growth-oriented, Dr Shah replied when asked how the government can come out of present economic mess. They dont have any other option, he claimed while talking to TheNation after addressing the seminar. To a question, he said the government would hardly be able to collect Rs 100 billion by imposing new surcharges and Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST) in an attempt to bring the budget deficit at 4.7 per cent from the existing 6.5 per cent. Earlier, Dr Shah gave detailed presentation on 'Economic situation: Challenges and way forward, in which he presented a gloomy picture of the present economic situation of the country and severely criticised the PPP-led government for its failure to tackle the challenges. He said there was strong possibility of negative (GDP) growth in the future. This will multiply unemployment, he warned. He said the country needed to create new jobs for three million youth every year and for this purpose the GDP growth should be above 8 per cent. He also claimed that the regime of former dictator Pervez Musharraf was economically best time as far as new jobs creation and foreign investment were concerned. Dr Shah also criticised the debt serving policy of former Finance Minister Shaukat Tareen stating that they agreed to increase the interest rate by 15 per cent and accepted the IMF recipe. This (high mark-up) is the major reason behind high inflation as it increased the industrial cost of doing business, he explained. He said the external debt had swelled to $58 billion that were $40 billion in their regime. Similarly, the countrys internal debt had soared to $45 billion. He further said the debt-servicing policy of the government was multiplying inflation rather than defense spending. He said the economic situation was moving from bad to worse due to the growth stagnation and inflation. He said 40 per cent of the total population were living below poverty line. Therefore, the country needed growth-oriented economic policies, he said adding the government had slashed the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) that means no growth and no more jobs. He said the IMF was deliberately giving such recipe with harsh conditionalities to Pakistan that had halted the growth of the country with millions of youth unemployed. Meanwhile, Member Privatisation Iftikharul Haq gave detailed briefing on inflation since 1947 and suggested several important steps to cut unnecessary spending. He also suggested the government to privatise the institutions in deficit. He also urged the government to ban the import of all kinds of luxurious items. Dr Muhammad Sadiq also spoke on this occasion.