Reacting to the incumbent government’s release of the Pakistan Economic Survey 2021-22, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan—whose party was in power through the entire review period of the survey—said that the public will now see “real inflation” as a result of the policies of the coalition government.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, he said the political parties comprising the incumbent government had often lamented about inflation during his party’s tenure. But now, he claimed, prices would increase threefold because of ongoing currency devaluation and its fallout. “I fear how a normal household would manage its budget,” he said, alleging that the current rulers were the first in Pakistan’s history to inflict such massive inflation on the public in less than two months in power.
“They used to say we are incompetent but you can now see the economic condition of the country,” he said, adding that if the country defaulted, it would take a lot of time to reverse the crisis. “If they were not ready to handle the country economically then what was the need to conspire against the PTI-led government? If they were not prepared then what was the need, what was the hurry? They could have waited for 1.5 years [until the next general elections],” he added.
The ousted prime minister noted that the incumbent government had come into power on the promise of reducing inflation, adding that the 3.5 years of the PTI’s government had seen prices of petrol increase by Rs. 55/liter and diesel by Rs. 50/liter. “This government increased electricity tariffs by Rs. 10/unit. People will now find out what is inflation,” he said while acknowledging that inflation had also been a major concern during his own term as prime minister.
According to the Economic Survey, while the country had witnessed a growth of 6 percent against an envisaged target of 4.8 percent, it had failed to fulfill the inflation target of 8 percent, with the actual rate coming in at 11 percent. Despite this, he stressed, the PTI had not succumbed to the International Monetary Fund’s pressure to raise prices.
Khan also claimed that Pakistan was facing loadshedding because it was unable to produce electricity due to a lack of funds for importing coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG). He alleged that power generation was operating at 25 percent capacity and could not be improved until the economic situation was improved.
The former prime minister claimed that “10 dam projects” launched by his government were now at risk because the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA)’s credit rating has gone down in the past two months and it could not secure new loans; this is partially incorrect, as all loans have been blocked for Pakistan since the suspension of the IMF program following Khan’s announcement of subsidies on fuel and electricity earlier this year.
“The government’s rating itself has gone down, and Moody’s has decreased Pakistan’s credit rating outlook, which means people will lend us loans on high interest,” he said, adding that two new threats had surfaced following the ouster of his government. “First, it has become difficult for Pakistan to take loans and secondly, this inability to receive loans has put the dam projects launched by the PTI under threat, which would make it difficult for Pakistan to increase its water storage capacity,” he added.