Only ‘tough decisions’ can iron out Pakistan’s economic issues: Imran Khan

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ISLAMABAD, JAN 3: Since the country’s economic condition is in the doldrums, former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan Tuesday said “tough decisions” should be taken by the new government that comes with a mandate.

“Whichever new government comes with people’s mandate should take tough decisions. This [PDM] government doesn’t have the moral authority to take tough decisions,” the PTI chief said while addressing the launch of PTI’s white paper via video link.

The deposed prime minister’s comments come as a default risk looms over Pakistan, the rupee continues to depreciate against the US dollar, and forex reserves have plunged to record lows — covering merely a month’s imports.

Financial pundits have already voiced concerns since the ouster of the previous government and stressed that until the country does not see political stability, its financial side will remain vulnerable.

As a result of the prevailing financial crisis, the federal government has decided to close markets/malls by 8:30pm and save around Rs62 billion per annum — but traders have once again rejected the idea.

Meanwhile, the former premier lamented the country’s economic state highlighting the increase in inflation.

“Prices of flour, electricity, petroleum products and food items have all increased. Today, the country’s industries are shutting down,” Khan said, highlighting that the nation is afraid of seeing the country’s direction.

He claimed that around 750,000 Pakistanis have left the country in the last eight months. Khan also stressed the need for increasing the country’s exports.

For 30 to 40 years, we did not consider increasing exports. Pakistan won’t be able to stand on its feet for as long as the exports don’t increase. When I met exporters, they informed me about the obstacles,” the PTI chairman revealed.

Circling back to his demand for elections in the country, the former prime minister said: “The economy is linked to politics. It cannot improve without political stability.”

He said that elections are the only solution to get the country out of the economic crisis.

“The election is necessary to end instability. No matter what initiative is being taken, the election is the only solution,” the PTI chief said.

Advising the ruling government in the Centre about its decisions regarding the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Imran Khan said that approaching the IMF raises the issue of autonomy.

“When going to the IMF, one has to adhere to their orders. You cannot make your own decisions. Instead of going to the IMF, attention should be paid to exporters,” he added.

Talking about his government’s performance in line with managing the economy, the PTI chairman said that growth rate was 5.7% to 6% in his tenure and the statistics were presented in the cabinet.

“When the growth rate statistics were presented before the court, the members weren’t believing. It was the best performance in Pakistan’s history,” the ousted premier said, further claiming to have created 5,500,000 jobs in the country.

He also spoke about including taxpayers in the system in collaboration with the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and refrain from increasing the prices of petroleum products.

Globally, Imran Khan said, the prices of edible oil and coal increased; however, his government still kept it low.

“We developed the Ravi City plan to save Lahore in an attempt to bring investment from overseas Pakistanis. We tried to bring foreign investment to increase our servers,” he shared when speaking during his address.

Highlighting the economic progress during his party’s rule up until April last year, the ousted PM claimed that owners of textile industries spoke about not finding enough workers. He also alleged propaganda of “destroying the country” against his government.

Pakistan, according to the PTI chairman, should be managed like never before. “Major changes in the system of governance will have to be introduced in the country to improve its economy. Establishing the rule of law has become inevitable,” he said, underlining how Pakistan is facing challenges of unemployment and inflation at present.

“Investors don’t trust Pakistan’s system of justice,” the PTI chief claimed.

He added that a fair and transparent election is the first step to finding solutions to all issues.

“The government with a mandate should arrive and take tough decisions because the imported government cannot. This government has arrived with action not election,” Khan alleged.

Recalling his discussions with former chief of army staff (COAS) General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa, the former prime minister said that he had become a jack of all trades.

“Gen Bajwa told us to fix the economy and forget accountability. He was lecturing us on giving NRO [National Reconciliation Ordinance to political parties in the opposition] and focus on the economy,” Khan said.