-Asks Pakistanis to get ready for sacrifices under the new Economic Plan
-Information Minister says Pakistan witnessing “emergency situation”
-PM likely to address nation in few days
By Anzil Amin
ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb announced Thursday the federal government has devised an economic plan in a bid to take the country out of the financial turmoil and, “for the first time”, a complete ban has been imposed on luxury or non-essential items.
“This is an emergency situation and Pakistanis will have to make sacrifices under the economic plan. This will have a quick impact on foreign reserves. The ban will have an impact of $6 billion,” the information minister said during a press conference.
Aurangzeb added the government’s focus was to reduce imports and, therefore, it was about to introduce an export-oriented policy, which would benefit the local industry and producers.
The information minister said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was working “day and night to stabilise the economy” and had decided to ban the imports of all items that were not in the use of common people.
Aurangzeb added the imports covered food items, decoration items, and luxury vehicles, as she noted that the country was facing a “tough economic situation due to the previous government’s policies”.
The government has decided to ban the import of the following items: Mobile phones; Home appliances; Fruits and dry fruits (except Afghanistan); Crockery; Private weapons and ammunition; Shoes; Chandeliers and lighting (except energy savers); Headphones and loudspeakers; Sauces, ketchup etc.
Doors and window frames; Travelling bags and suitcases; Sanitary ware; Fish and frozen fish; Carpets (except Afghanistan); Preserved fruits; Tissue paper; Furniture; Shampoos; Automobile; Confectionary; Luxury mattresses and sleeping bags; Jams and jelly; Cornflakes; Bathroom ware/toiletries; Heaters/blowers; Sunglasses; Kitchenware; Aerated water; Frozen meat; Juices; Pasta etc; Ice cream; Cigarettes; Shaving goods; Luxury leather apparel; Musical instruments; Salon items like hairdryers etc.
The information minister said the announcement was part of the fiscal plan devised by the current government to overcome the PTI’s “incompetent” policies.
Berating the PTI for calling out the incumbent government on the economic turmoil, Aurangzeb said the Imran Khan-led government hiked inflation, took historic loans, committed “economic terrorism”, and played with the country’s economy by subsidising petroleum prices.
The information minister noted that the PTI government went against the agreement it had made with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by subsidising the price of petroleum products.
“Now, we cannot come out of the conditions put forth by the IMF for Pakistan. But despite that, instead of shifting the burden of conspirators on Pakistanis, the PML-N and its allies do not plan on doing this as it has never been their manifesto,” Aurangzeb said.
The information minister said during the previous government did not have an economic plan. “[Ex-prime minister] Imran Khan would often say that he wasn’t in power to know about the rates of tomatoes.”
“They [PTI] first exported sugar, then imported it and sold it at Rs120, whereas, during the PML-N’s tenure, it stood Rs62 per kg. And during their tenure, women stood for a kilo of sugar in long queues. Don’t they have any same? Do they think that the people of Pakistan have forgotten all this?”
Responding to the PTI and Imran Khan’s repeated demands of snap polls, Aurangzeb said it is the government’s job to conduct elections across the country, whether the party “cries or shouts”.
“If your [PTI’s] objective was to conduct snap polls, you would have done it during your tenure and dissolved the assemblies. But since you thought that the allies would stand by you, you stuck on to the seat of power.”
Aurangzeb said the government will hold elections “when it wishes to”.
The information minister, in response to Khan’s question of why did courts open at midnight, said the courts had opened their doors to stop a person from violating the constitution.
Aurangzeb said the previous government did not have a plan and would abuse the institutions. “But this government will take the country out of the crisis.”
The minister said PM Shehbaz, unlike Khan, looks at the price of sugar, wheat, and tomatoes before going to sleep and was constantly planning on ways to provide relief to the people.
“We have the capacity and experience to stabilise the economy unlike Imran Khan during whose tenure dollar’s rate increased substantially,” she said.
In response to a question, the information minister said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will address the nation in a couple of days.
According to reports the prime minister will be addressing the nation today (Friday) and he is expected to speak on the current economic situation of the country in his maiden speech.
PM Shehbaz Sharif will discuss matters relating to national affairs and other issues.
The information minister said anyone talking of a bloody march — as indicated by several PTI leaders — should keep in mind that the law will not spare such elements.