Islamabad – Staff Reporter:
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday heavily criticised the PTI government for its “fake budgets”, saying they had resulted in job losses for five million people.
He was finally able to deliver his budget speech after three previous sessions of the House were adjourned due to chaotic behaviour by both treasury as well as opposition members.
He said that in the last three years, many taxes were imposed by the PTI government because of which the “poor man’s meals have been halved.” Hunger and hopelessness had been created in the country because of previous budgets, he said, adding that Budget 2021-2022 would further increase inflation and the poor would suffer more.
“Twenty million people have fallen below the poverty line in these three years. Income has been reduced by 20 per cent. People are asking where are the 10.5m jobs [promised by the PTI]. As a result of these fake budgets, 5m people have lost their jobs.”
He said 15pc unemployment had been combined with 16pc inflation, asking whether “anyone had imagined that a man would sleep hungry in Riasat-e-Madinah”.
“They say we will create Naya Pakistan. It is obvious that the old Pakistan was better when the country was somehow made to progress,” he quipped.
Work on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects should be restarted immediately.
“If only Punjab progresses and the rest of Pakistan does not, then it is not progress,” he emphasised. Shehbaz said that instead of solving issues such as food inflation, the PTI government had spent the time “taking revenge from the opposition”. He said nobody was saying that accountability should not happen but “fairness should be the benchmark” for it.
Shehbaz also criticised the PTI government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, saying “the entire opposition termed Covid as a ‘national emergency’ which [they and the government] would tackle together after setting aside our differences.”
He recalled that National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser had then called a conference which was also attended by Prime Minister Imran Khan. “We were all [united] on this but the prime minister left after his speech. Was there something more important than Covid?”
The Rs1.2 trillion package to deal with the coronavirus that was announced by the government also “fell victim to incompetence and negligence”, Shehbaz said.
“China and other countries gave us vaccines as gifts but did we have to start (the vaccination campaign) with just gifts? What did you (the government) do in the space you got between the waves of the virus?” he questioned.
The PML-N leader said the per capita debt in Pakistan had risen to 0.14m, adding that “every last hair of our coming generations is mortgaged.”
“Can any nation remain alive like this — with an atomic bomb on the one hand and a begging bowl on the other?” he asked.
Shhebaz stressed that the country would have to generate resources, saying “if we want to end dictation, then we will have to break the begging bowl.”
“The aim is not to raise an army of beggars but an army of doers and nation builders. If agriculture and industry are destroyed and poverty and unemployment are taken forward, then nations do not progress,” he said. This was the reason that after the latest budget, people were “screaming that their pockets are empty and [asking] how to feed their children”, he added.