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PML-N convinces MQM to raise reservations over ‘mini budget’

He was addressing a press conference in Karachi alongside MQM convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui. Source: Twitter. 

KARACHI: Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) leader Ahsan Iqbal on Wednesday criticised the government over the mini-budget which he said would burden people with additional taxes of Rs350 billion. 

Addressing a press conference in Karachi alongside Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, he said the opposition had decided to communicate parties in the National Assembly (NA) including the PTI’s allies that the parliament was a sovereign entity.

“The approval of the IMF package by holding the National Assembly assembly at gunpoint will be a resounding blow to the House’s sovereignty,” he added, adding that the parliament was not bound by the IMF’s conditions.

The PML-N leader pointed out that some recommendations in the finance supplementary bill, such as taxes on medicines, would be damaging for the country and its people.

He said the government should have worked towards developing a national consensus on these matters and consulted the opposition and taken its allies into confidence before presenting the bill. “We would not have let them include clauses in the bill that will have a direct negative impact on the country’s economy,” he said.

He requested the MQM leadership is to work together to get those clauses removed from the mini-budget that will negatively affect the common man.

Speaking about the SBP bill, he said a country’s central bank is the “guarantor of its economic sovereignty”. He warned that the abolishment of the SBP’s fiscal and monetary board under the proposed law could lead to a “crisis”.

“We have serious reservations regarding this and even economic experts have expressed reservations that abolishing the fiscal and monetary board will lead to a crisis at the policy level,” he said.

Moreover, he said the SBP governor had been “made more powerful than the prime minister under the bill”. “The prime minister is at least answerable to parliament, but the SBP governor will not even be answerable to parliament. He will only take directions from international financial institutions,” Iqbal said.

He further stated that the proposed law also paved the way to make the government “a hostage to banks”. He claimed the proposed law, which bars the government from borrowing from the central bank, will lead the government to take loans from international banks.

“These banks will give loans on their conditions, which will compromise the country’s economic sovereignty,” Iqbal said the SBP bill equated to surrendering Pakistan’s economic sovereignty.

“There is no political motivation behind these requests. This is not about the government and opposition. This is about Pakistan and its sovereignty,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Siddiqui said they discussed several issues including the two bills. “We are together in parliament and we have agreements and disagreements on various issues,” he said,

He said the MQM will discuss with the government such clauses in the bill that would directly burden people after talks with the PML-N delegation. He assured on behalf of his party workers and the entire party that the “country is more dear to us than our politics”.

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