PM Shehbaz terms budget ‘significant improvement’ as govt, opposition trade barbs over debt

Premier says budget has targeted subsidies for financially weak

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has termed the budget for the next fiscal year a “significant improvement” in various ways, while the opposition blames each other for the rising debt.

In a tweet on Sunday, PM Shehbaz stated that the budget had given more educational opportunities for the youth, especially from Balochistan, along with targeted subsidies for the financially weak.

The statement comes two days after the coalition government presented what has been referred to as the “toughest federal budget”. The budget, which has a total outlay of Rs9.5 trillion, aims to fulfil the International Monetary Fund’s conditions for the $6 billion Extended Fund Facility.

The budget, as Finance Minister Miftah Ismail revealed on Saturday, has still been a cause of concern for the international lender, with fuel subsidies particularly being a reason for that.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan on the same day had rejected the “anti-people and business budget presented by the imported government”.

Earlier on Sunday, members of the coalition government and the opposition traded barbs on the budget.

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb shared Saturday’s statement by former finance minister Shaukat Tarin in which the latter had said that the incumbent government had pointed out that PTI had raised debt by 80 percent, while it only grew by 76 percent.

Marriyum stated that Tarin had admitted that Imran Khan took loans worth Rs20 thousand billion which was 76 percent, and that more such “admissions” would follow.

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail stated following Marriyum’s tweet that total debt plus liabilities saw an increase of 79 percent in the 3.75 years of PTI’s rule.

Moreover, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said that the PTI had taken loans of $52 billion, from which $38 billion went into paying the loans of the previous governments.

On the other hand, former finance minister Shaukat Tarin took the opportunity to claim that the PTI’s economic performance was the best in 30 years.

In another tweet, he said that while PTI’s debt increased by 76 percent “despite COVID”, the debt during the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s government increased by 79 percent during their time.