Hafeez Pasha Says 6 Lakh People To Be Jobless 'In Next Few Months'

Hafeez Pasha Says 6 Lakh People To Be Jobless 'In Next Few Months'
Former finance minister Dr Hafeez Pasha commented on the current economic crisis under Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s government and said that the government elected after 2023 General Elections would inherit a worse economy than the one the PTI inherited.

Dr Hafeez Pasha, while expressing his opinion on the country’s rampant external debt, said: “Pakistan’s $111 billion external debt is growing rapidly. In two years we’ll have to pay up to $11 billion each year. We’ll have to generate this money through borrowing.” He said that considering the current alarming status of Pakistan’s economy, the country could see more ‘hard times’ ahead.

“When we hold elections in 2023, whatever new government comes to power, it will inherit a worse economy than the one the PTI inherited,” the economist envisaged.

Dr Pasha commented on the rising issue of joblessness in the country, predicting that in the next few months, up to six hundred thousand people could be rendered jobless. “This would push 15 million to 20 million people into poverty,” he added.

The former finance minister, however, appreciated PTI’s success in reducing the trade deficit from $20b to $13.8b. He said that in the ongoing year, the deficit would further come down to $5b.

“The arrival of $1.4 billion in IMF support means the ruling party PTI has the breathing space to ramp up welfare for daily wage workers under the lockdown,” Dr Pasha said while expressing his opinion on the federal government’s measures to give relief to daily wagers and needy families amid the deadly coronavirus lockdown. “Despite the fact that Pakistan received $1.4 billion in emergency funding from the IMF, our ongoing IMF programme has been suspended. As a result we will not get two tranches and so it goes down $900 million,” he noted.

The economist was of the view that the government should pay more attention to the daily wagers who were not covered by the Ehsaas program. “You’ve increased [the Ehsaas programme] from 5m to 12m families which is a good step but now perhaps next time you can take it to 17m to 18m families. This is essential. People are at risk of starving.” Dr Pasha said that the government should reach 15 million people through adopting new methods. “Make small and medium enterprises or SMEs (surgical, leather, sports goods) a priority and protect them as they are our backbone. They give 13 million jobs,” he added.

He also argued the government to not increase the petroleum levy at the moment, since it would make everything more expensive. He said this was not the time to increase taxes.

Dr Hafeez Pasha on Sunday expressed these views during an interview to journalist Amber Rahim Shamsi on Samaa TV.

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