PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto on Saturday lambasted the government after it announced that the expected gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate for the fiscal year 2020-21.
A day earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan had said the GDP growth of Pakistan for the FY 2020-21 was estimated at 3.94%, as he praised the government’s policy for helping the economy grow.
The government had earlier estimated a GDP growth of 2.1% for the outgoing fiscal year. The IMF and the World Bank, on the other hand, had predicted the GDP growth in the range of 1.5% for the current fiscal year.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, in a series of tweets, said the country’s growth rate was 5.8% during the PML-N tenure, but now the premier is claiming a mere 3.9% growth rate.
“An SBP (State Bank of Pakistan) representative objected to the figure being overstated. PTI, in its first year, had increased the original figure from 1.9% to 3.3%. This year too, they lied,” he said.
The PML-N president said independent economists had predicted a decline in real incomes for Pakistanis this year. “Therefore, the growth rate — put forward by PTI — this year is also unrealistic, which will be lower when it will be reviewed.”
Shahbaz said every week since February 5, prices have been showing a 13% increase. “Prices have increased by 17% this week compared to last year.”
The PML-N president said middle-class households had faced a severe setback as the inflation rate was so high that the food prices had witnessed an increase of 14%.
“Imran is running the country only for his friends,” he said.
PTI has left five million people unemployed and 20 million in extreme poverty, he said, adding: “In a successful economy, inflation is low, employment is high, the government plans schools, hospitals, and infrastructure. Where does our economy stand?”
‘Fudging numbers and stacking statistics in their favour’
Meanwhile, Chairman Pakistan People’s Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that the PTI-led government has a unique talent in being “absolutely shameless when it boldly and brazenly misleads the people”.
The federal government has, since its first day in office, been fudging numbers and stacking statistics in their favour, Bilawal said in a statement.
“Fudging economic figures may feed the large egos in the government, but it doesn’t feed the people. These alleged facts and figures are tantamount to gaslighting the lived experience of the people who are being crushed under the economic failures of Imran Khan,” he said.
The PPP chairman said that since the PTI formed government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa nearly a decade ago, poverty levels had increased exponentially, with figures showing that poverty has gone up from 9% to a whopping 27% today.
In contrast, under PPP, the province of Sindh had managed to slash the poverty rate by 7.6%, said the statement. It added that the PPP government in Sindh has also overseen “Sindh’s rise in per capita income”, with the province now “leading in both rural and urban figures”.
“Despite soul crushing inflation and rapidly increasing poverty levels, the PTI-led federal government is preparing to levy taxes on the pensions of the retired employees,” he said.
Bilawal said PPP was determined to protect the rights of pensioners and that it rejects any scheme that would seek to tax them. The proposed 10% tax on pensions in next budget would only push people further to the brink.
“The powers that foisted an incredibly inept government and prime minister on the country have done a great disservice to the country and its future,” he added.