By Akhtar Shaheen Rind
KARACHI: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addressed business community here and sought solutions to economic woes that country is undergoing. During his speech, premier asked businessmen to speak about their problems and said, “We need to analyse economic situation with patience.” He then requested business community to provide solutions as domestic currency has lately been fluctuating significantly against dollar.
“I am not here for political point-scoring,” he clarified, stressing that he wants to know solutions to problems faced by business community.
Regarding rising rates of dollar, he highlighted that greenback was Rs 118 back in August 2018; however, when coalition government was formed after ousting former prime minister Imran Khan through a vote of no-confidence back in April, country’s economy was in dire straits. “When I took oath on April 11, rate of dollar against Pakistani currently was 189.” “Rs60-65 increase in rupee value against greenback wasn’t coalition government’s fault,” he said. When former government speculated that they would be ousted, they reduced petroleum prices despite a price hike in international market, thus going against conditions of International Monetary Fund.
Criticising previous government, he said that previous government did not provide any relief to people of Pakistan in last four-and-a-half years. “During PTI’s tenure loans worth Rs 22,000 billion were taken which shows an 80 percent increase from 2018,” he said. He said that if PML-N government would have been given 30 percent of this support economy would have flourished. He questioned when load-shedding had been eliminated and how did problem arise again.
On ban imposed on import of luxury and non-essential items, he said that while he banned import of certain items for some time, he did not increase duties because “elite class would have still purchased imported items after paying duties.” “We have to make sacrifices during these difficult times,” he said.
PM expressed hope that he would succeed in his plans to bring economy back on track. He said: “I believe that country will flourish once people unite. We will move forward with everyone by our side.”
“Pakistan is likely to receive an investment worth $ 1 billion from Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“Pakistan cannot afford to purchase gas worth $ 20 billion; we have to slowly and gradually move towards solar and wind energy.” “If green energy comes to Pakistan, we will save Pakistan’s funds,” he reiterated.