ISLAMABAD   -    Senior PPP leader Senator Rehman Malik in the Senate Friday strongly rejected the federal budget and said it would lead the country towards a state of “national default.”

Taking part in the budget debate, Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior Senator Malik said that this budget would lead the country towards absolute bankruptcy as their financial sovereignty had been compromised at the hands of IMF. He termed the budget as anti-poor and IMF-dictated.

He also advised the government to introduce the Turkish model to get rid of the present economic crunch and IMF as well. He said that the finance bill lacked any national debt retirement program. He also said that the budget documents did not talk about the ways to bring Pakistan out of the dangers of grey list of Financial Action Task Force (FATF). He showed his surprise that India was facing similar allegations that Pakistan was facing by the global of anti-money laundering watchdog but her name was not in its grey or blacklist. He called it an international agenda “Whether government has taken up the matter of India’s terror financing in Pakistan with FATF,” he questioned?

The PPP lawmaker advised that they would have to revisit their system to see where the fault lied and urged the need to form a truth and reconciliation commission. He also opposed the idea of making a commission to probe piling up of national debt of last 10 years and said that the idea gave a sense of victimization. He proposed that the commission should be formed since 1952 when the country avail a loan programm from IMF.

Dedicating his speech to the former prime minister and slain PPP leader Shaheed Benazir Bhutto on her birthday anniversary, he remembered that how she suffered and sacrificed her life for the great cause of democracy, well-being of the country and welfare of the voiceless segment of the society. 

“I am representing the miseries and feelings of the common man after budget 2019-20,” he said adding that he has gone through the contents of the budget very minutely but unfortunately found nothing for a common man. He said that his leader and Co-chairman PPP Asif Ali Zardari the other day, in the National Assembly had presented a comprehensive roadmap to overcome the ongoing economic crisis in the country. Zardari has suggested that the government and opposition should sit together to discuss issues affecting the economy and formulate a common strategy with national consensus. He appreciated former finance minister Asad Umer who in his budget speech in the NA also advised his government to revisit the budget.

He pointed out that the target of the taxes in the budget has been set without having a knowledge and analysis of the ground realities as the people were getting affected due to the price hike, unemployment and above all the lawlessness. He urged the government to revisit this anti-poor budget as it would force the poor people to commit suicide adding this budget in fact would bring a tsunami of new taxes and storm of inflation.

Senator Malik said that the present GDP growth rate of the country was 3.3 percent and the government expected it to bring to 4 percent by the end of this quarter which was very lower. He added that the economic parameters coupled with deficit, GDP growth rate and taxes would bring hike in prices because of inflation and devaluation of Pakistani rupee. “I, in this house had predicted that the rupees will fall to 160 against $ US Dollar if urgent measures haven’t been taken and today I predict once again that it might be devalued up to 170 or more”.

Senator Malik argued that this budget was based on the money borrowed from IMF, banks and external and internal donors. Pakistan’s external debt has reached $105.8 billion in March 2019, compared with $99.1 billion in the previous quarter, he added.

He further said that the government introduced 11 taxable slabs at progressive tax rates from 5 per cent to 35 per cent for salaried people who were already paying taxes and this budget would further increase burden on them. He added that the budget proved that this government had no roadmap and policy to provide any relief to common Pakistani who was facing the brunt of a ballooning economic crisis.

He said that country was passing through state of war against terrorism and they need to empower our law enforcement agencies (LEAs) through modern equipment and better trainings but the budget for Ministry of Interior had been cut down and even sufficient funds had not been allocated for National Action Plan (NAP).  He questioned how government would fulfil its promise of constructing new schools, colleges and universities when the budget for education had been reduced by 25 percent. How will it make new hospitals and will provide free health facilities when the budget for health has been reduced by more than 20 percent.

Senator Rehman Malik concluded that it would be difficult for lower class to sustain livelihood with continuous increasing inflation rate. He strongly criticized the ongoing selected accountability which he termed was aimed at political victimization saying there should be no victimization in the name of accountability.

The parliamentary leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Mushahid Ullah Khan taking part in the debate indirectly criticized the superior judiciary mentioning recent remarks of Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Asif Saeed Khosa for his remarks about the performance of parliament.

Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami Senator Sirajul Haq in his remarks said that the government had failed to fulfill its promises of providing million of jobs and five million housing facilities to people. “What PPP and PML did (with the economy) in 10 years, PTI government did the same in 10 months,” he said.