‘Get rid of Imran phobia’ Mahar says in NA budget session

ISLAMABAD: Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) leader Ghous Bux Mahar Monday told the government to come out of its “Imran” phobia and focus on performance.

In the National Assembly’s budget session, the GDA leader said the targets eyed by the government in the budget for the fiscal year 2022-23 are “unrealistic and unimplementable”.

The Shehbaz Sharif-led coalition government last week unveiled the “toughest” federal budget with an outlay of Rs9.5 trillion amid strict conditions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the revival of the $6 billion loan programme stalled for months over policy breaches.

In the budget, the government has set the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) collection target for the next fiscal year at Rs7,004 billion, while the provinces will be asked to collect Rs4,100 billion. Moreover, Rs24 billion have been allocated to the health sector and Rs65 billion to HEC.

In his speech, Mahar said the government’s decision to hike petroleum prices has led to an increase in the rates of commodities across the board.

“I fear that the price of petrol might shoot up to Rs400 per litre […] the price of fertilisers has also increased after the hike in electricity tariff,” he said.

The GDA leader added that the incumbent government, like its predecessor, is knocking on the door of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “When you knew about the problems, then why did you decide to voluntarily fall in the pit?” he asked the government.

“How will you repay debts worth $21 billion with reserves of $9 billion?” Mahar asked.

Moving on to the Opposition Leader in the National Assembly, Mahar said that Raja Raiz — a member of the PTI — had stated that he would contest the next elections on the ticket of the PML-N — the major stakeholder of the coalition government.

“What role will this sort of an Opposition leader play?” he asked.