PML-N’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi criticised the 1.5% increase in interest rates by the State Bank of Pakistan.
He said it was a drastically high increase. “In other countries, such an increase is part of public debate,” Abbasi said in a media briefing on Monday after the monetary policy announcement.
Loans have now become more expensive as the SBP announced earlier today that it is increasing the benchmark interest rate to 12.25% effective May 21.
The 1.5% increase is for two months. It has yet to be seen whether the central bank will increase it further after these two months are up. A higher benchmark interest rate means that commercial banks will also increase their interest rates, making it more expensive to borrow or take loans. That’s for individuals (like people wanting loans to buy a car or a house) and businesses (who take loans to expand their companies or buy more machinery).
Speaking about the opposition coming together, Abbasi said the All Parties Conference after Eid will decide whether the opposition will come out on the streets to protest the government’s policies or not.
A day earlier, opposition leaders came together for an iftaar dinner hosted by PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in Islamabad.
The opposition parties, including PPP, PkMAP, JUI-F, PML-N, National Party, and ANP, decided to hold an APC after Eid. The conference will be convened by JUI-F’s Fazlur Rehman.
“All parties will meet and work on their joint strategy against the government’s policies,” said Bilawal while addressing a press conference after the dinner on Sunday night. He said that the iftaar gave a chance to the opposition parties to discuss the country’s political and economic situation, the future of democracy and human rights in a “relaxed atmosphere”.
He remarked that all parties will continue to stage their own protests after Eid, outside and inside parliament.
On Monday, Abbasi said it is a time of fear in Pakistan. Abbasi said he did not think anyone was corrupt. Only those are corrupt against whom there is evidence, he said.
He said the government has failed to run the country and solve its problems. “People are facing the brunt of the results of the controversial elections.” The increasing prices of commodities is just the start, the situation will become much worse, he said.
Abbasi remarked that the opposition parties didn’t meet to discuss their personal agendas because they are not trying to evade accountability. “We don’t have a problem with it. We just want a better future for Pakistan,” he said. “We are not interested in bringing down the government but solve the problems of the people.”
We need to find a solution to the destruction of our economy, he said.