LAHORE: Taking a jibe at Prime Minister Imran Khan, PPP’s Senator Sherry Rehman termed the relief package announced in an address to the nation “bizarre”.
“The blame minister of Pakistan has given a bizarre speech where he said that all unprecedented inflation, tsunami of oil, gas prices, essentials is because of the past governments and international markets,” said the PPP parliamentary leader in the senate.
Rehman remarked that PM Imran Khan has “forgotten” that her party’s government from 2008-2013 faced higher global oil prices with the essential commodity being sold at $130 per barrel. She added that despite the rising oil prices the price of petrol was “still half of today’s prices and the rupee stood strong, while exports were the highest ever and wheat imports were no longer needed”.
“The PM is clearly living in a parallel universe where he cannot see the pain inflicted on the people of Pakistan by the prices that are rising every other day and are becoming completely unsustainable for the whole country and not just the 20 million people,” said Rehman.
The senator said that it was “ironic” that the “biggest welfare package in Pakistan’s history” was just targeting 20 million people rather than the 220 million people of the country.
“Inflation in the country cannot be controlled by giving interviews or doing talk shows. The PM has taken notice of the spiralling inflation at least 17 times but not even once has he shared an action plan. A solid economic recovery plan is the need of the hour,” said the senator.
Slamming the government’s decision to introduce subsidies, the PPP leader said that if inflation could be controlled by such measures then “sugar would not be sold for Rs120 per kg”.
“It is easy to blame others to hide your own incompetence and this is something this government has been doing since they came in power. First it was the opposition, then it was the international market; is the high price of sugar also because of the fluctuations in the international markets? The prime minister must be talking about Banigala’s prosperity because life in this Naya Pakistan has become extremely difficult for people,” she said.
“If we compare our situation with other countries like India and Bangladesh, Pakistan’s economic indicators are the worst in the entire region. The economy is on the ventilator and unfortunately this is the least of this government’s concerns,” concluded the PPP vice president.
PM unveils Pakistan’s ‘largest welfare programme’
Earlier today, PM Imran unveiled Pakistan’s “largest welfare programme” in a televised address to the nation.
“Today, I am really happy that we are [announcing] Pakistan’s largest welfare programme,” said PM Imran. He added that it took “three years” for the government to collect the data of families that have been under “difficult circumstances”.
“It was not easy for us to give subsides and it was based on assumptions. Now we have a complete database, therefore I am in this position that I can announce this programme in front of you,” said PM Imran in his address.
While sharing details of the package, PM Imran said that it would benefit 20 million families and in total, 130 million people will get help from it. The package will be of Rs120 billion in total, he said.
“In this you [common man] will get 30% discount at shops on ghee, wheat and lentils,” said PM Imran. He explained that the common man would benefit as the government will provide a 30% subsidy on these items.
“This will be for next six months so the difficult time goes by,” said PM Imran, adding that the federal and provincial government would be paying for the subsidy.
“As our tax is rising then we can also increase it. But right now out of necessity the government is doing this [for some time],”said PM Imran.
The “second biggest programme” in “Pakistan’s history” that the PM said that has been launched is the Kamyab Pakistan programme.
“We will provide interest free loans to 4 million families,” said PM Imran.
Under the programme, interest-free loans will be provided for building houses, while Rs500,000 interest-free loans will be given to farmers to uplift their lands. While in cities Rs500,000 loans will be given to small businesses.
“And one person from a family will be given skilled training so they can stand on their feet and help their family,” said PM Imran. Under the same programme, the Kamyab Jawan programme is also connected, he added.
The PM shared that under the programme the government has provided Rs30billion in loans to 22,000 small businesses.
“With this is connected Pakistan’s largest scholarship programme. This is important as anything that can help uplift our lower class is education,” said PM Imran. He added that 6 million scholarships are being given under the programme.
The PM said that the last scheme that the government is expanding is the health card so families that have illness have the money for treatment.
“Aim of it [health card] will be that every family that has illness have money and [have the option] to go to any hospital for treatment,” said PM Imran. He added that the card is already available in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“We are also launching this in Islamabad and will have it there in next one or two months,” said PM Imran. He added that the programme will be expanded in Punjab by December and will cover the province completely by March of next year.
The premier shared that the PTI’s coalition government in Balochistan has also been asked to introduce the initiative.
“In Sindh because they [PPP] have their own government I will also ask them to begin it as well,” appealed PM Imran.