In a response to PML-N economic allegations, PTI ministers came up with figures, data and blames. Speaking at a hurriedly called virtual presser in response to PML-N’s pre-budget seminar, Mr. Tarin along with ministers for energy and industries took a few questions and mostly repeated the PTI’s traditional criticism of its arch-rival PML-N’s economic policies.
The finance minister said that with a positive stance, the present government would now move to growth mode after achieving stabilization and criticized the previous government for leaving the economy in shambles that forced the PTI to go for an IMF programme with harsh conditions, upfront adjustments and debt increase.
He said the government would enhance revenue by 20 per cent every year, achieve over Rs4.7tr revenue target next year and set over Rs5.8tr tax target for next year and take it to Rs7tr on the terminal year of the current government.
Mr Tarin said that despite the Covid-19 pandemic and IMF programme in which the international lender was very unfair to Pakistan, the government had been successful in bringing the economic growth rate close to 4pc and would build up it with 5pc growth rate next year and 6pc the year later.
He said that perhaps except former finance minister Ishaq Dar even those in the PML-N knew well that the highest-ever current account deficit of $20bn required tough adjustments as the tenure left behind high inflation, massive circular debt build-up due to bad decisions and artificial exchange rates.
The finance minister said the government would focus on providing relief to the masses in the upcoming budget and the IMF had been told that electricity and gas rates would not be increased. He claimed that former finance minister Miftah Ismail of the PML-N, during his tenure, had raised petroleum development levy up to Rs30 per litre, while the present government had reduced it to Rs2-3.
Mr Tarin said the government did not believe in imposing “taxes on taxes” to enhance revenue collection nor would it resort to harassment, but higher collection would be achieved by expanding the tax base and bringing traders through innovative means into the tax net. The government, he said, had increase development program by 38pc for next year to trigger economic growth and job creation.
The minister said the government was also working to initiate the process of restructuring and privatization of loss-making state-owned enterprises that he had also advised to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif without any outcome.
He said the IMF was being given alternative means of reducing circular debt instead of increasing tariffs. Circular debt is now reducing and the government will take more steps to further reduce it. The top priority of the government, he said, was to reduce poverty by promoting skills development and providing housing facilities and health cards.