PTI Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan on Friday rejected the budget for the new fiscal year, terming it “anti-people” and “anti-business”. The budget is based on “unrealistic assumptions” on inflation and economic growth, he said. In the budget, the government has set the targets for inflation and economic growth at 11.5 percent and 5 percent, respectively. Imran went on to say that weekly inflation, as measured by the Sensitive Price Index (SPI), came in at about 24pc. “[This] indicates that inflation will be between 25-30pc, which on the one hand will destroy the common man, and on the other hand, retard economic growth due to high interest rates.” All tax reforms and pro-poor programmes introduced during the PTI government had been shelved, he lamented. “It is an unimaginative, purana (old) Pakistan budget creating more burdens and misery for the nation.” Former energy minister Hammad Azhar, who had also served as the finance minister for a short period of time during the PTI government’s tenure, said the budget was not of “special importance”. He painted a gloomy picture of the country’s economic performance under the incumbent coalition government, saying that inflation would rise by 2-3pc while the GDP growth rate would fall from 6pc to 2-3pc. The economy is unstable and the country is on the verge of “bankruptcy”, he claimed. “They will bring a storm of inflation and unemployment the way they are proceeding. “The direction for taking the country out of the economic crisis and the uncertainty that they (government) created, which should have been in the budget, was not present. The feeling of uncertainty prevails [through] this budget.” He alleged that the budget was presented in haste and all the facts it contained were incorrect. Former minister for planning and development Asad Umar also referred to the SPI and asked, “If this is the situation before the budget [is passed], what will happen afterwards?” Umar said that Finance Minister Miftah had made hollow claims of reducing inflation and no relief was given to the people by the “imported government”. The former minister said “corrupt rulers” have passed on the burden of inflation to the masses. “Miftah Ismail had told the nation a few months back that the price of petrol should not be more than Rs137 but now it has gone up to Rs210,” he added. Similarly, Asad said the prices of other commodities including electricity tariffs have also witnessed a sharp increase since the coalition government came into power.
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