PML-N govt was similar to East India Company, says info minister


–Fawad calls former finance minister ‘biggest criminal of current economic situation’

–Says PML-N govt ‘indebted future generations by accumulating debt’

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday criticised the former Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government, saying the party had operated in a manner similar to East India Company during its tenure.

“After coming into power, the PML-N did what the East India Company had done,” Chaudhry commented while addressing a session of the National Assembly (NA).

Calling former finance minister Ishaq Dar Ishaq Dar the biggest criminal of current economic situation, the minister said that Dar and company were responsible for the country’s economic woes as they had indebted the future generations by accumulating debt.

“The courts asked Dar to appear before them, however, the former prime minister sent him abroad,” he added.

Continuing with his criticism, Chaudhry said, “Nowadays if someone complains of back pain, they are put on a plane and flown to London. Dar was sent abroad and he hasn’t returned till date.”

Responding to the speech of PPP’s Syed Naveed Qamar on the supplementary finance budget bill in the National Assembly, he said Ishaq Dar had fled from the country in an airplane of the then prime minister after playing havoc with the economy.

He said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government would fulfill its promises which the party had made with the people. Its performance was far better than the previous governments during the corresponding periods, he remarked.

“During the PML-N regime, the country’s expenses were over Rs2,780 billion per annum while the overall deficit stood at 7.2 per cent during its entire tenure. The fiscal deficit went up five times,” the minister said.

He said that when the PTI took over, the country had foreign reserves of only one-and-a-half months.

“The governments of both the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the PML-N criminally destroyed the state institutions. Pakistan is at the verge of economic collapse due to bad governance of the past regimes,” he added.

“The public debt during the first 60 years was only Rs6 trillion, which increased to Rs13 trillion in 2013 and Rs28 trillion in 2018. Who was responsible for the debacle?” he questioned.

The minister said that the PML-N workers were employed in every department, who did not bother to attend offices and preferred to work for their party’s social media cell.

He said that some 700 contractual employees were in Radio Pakistan but it had no money to pay their salaries. About Rs200 million were needed to pay pensions to its retired employees, he added.

“The present government, however, is not being allowed to take remedial measures. From where the salaries would be paid to the radio employees,” he asked.

Chaudhry said that the government was trying to introduce reforms and the difference between the poor and the rich would be bridged by paying subsidies to the former and taxing the latter.

He said that the policies of PML-N government had only made a few billionaires. “Their ruling elite enjoys treatment abroad,” he said.

Shehbaz Sharif spent Rs 11 trillion in his 10-year rule in Punjab. Metro bus projects were launched in Islamabad, Lahore and Multan, for which Rs8 billion were needed each year to run the buses whereas the Orange Line project was constructed after taking Rs300 billion loan, he added.

The PML-N government, he said, had purchased 33 luxury vehicles worth Rs980 million for the SAARC conference, which was never held, and Rs330 million was spent on their maintenance.

Chaudhry said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken austerity measures soon after taking reins of the government and even refused to live in the 1,100 kanal PM House and preferred a three-bed house.

The information minister said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had announced to build airports and motorways during his visits to different areas of the country. He even inaugurated the construction of an airport in Thar, where there was a little population, the minister said.

On the subject of auction of vehicles owned by the PM House, Chaudhry said, “We were told governments don’t run by auctioning cars.”

“The opposition should do a comparison of our one-month performance with the previous government’s performance over a year and see the difference for themselves,” he added.

“We will bring the change that we promised,” Chaudhry emphasised.