Former finance minister and economist Hafeez Pasha has blamed the government for the prevailing wheat crisis and record inflation in the country.
Pasha has previously held several key posts in the country and the United Nations. He appeared on SAMAA TV show Nadeem Malik Live Monday night.
The economist said the foremost question relating to the crisis was: who increased the flour prices despite the purchase of wheat from farmers at the same old rates?
He said at first the government stated that wheat production in the country was 25.5 million tons, but later it turned out to be 24 million tons.
Pasha said there was no explanation for this reduction of 1.5 million tons of wheat. He said the country’s wheat reserves stood at 6 million tons in April 2018, which depleted to 4 million tons in April 2019.
“The government should have made efforts to avert a possible wheat crisis,” the economist said.
“But the government instead reduced the purchase of wheat.”
On top of that, he said, the government last year allowed the export of wheat. Pasha said 0.65 million tons of wheat has been sold out to different countries since then.
Commenting on the hike in flour prices, he said wheat is being imported at a rate 10% higher than what it was exported at. But a commoner is getting it at 42% higher rate, he added.
Expressing his disappointment, the former finance minister said he has not seen such inflation and flawed planning throughout his life. It reflects negligence, lack of planning and failure of all government departments, he said.
Pasha said nearly 8 million people fell below the poverty line over the past one year, while 40% population of the country was on the verge of it. If the same policy continues then this 40% population will also fall below the poverty line by the next year, he added.
The economist further said that 70% income of a commoner was currently being spent on food items due to massive increase in their prices.
Anchorperson Nadeem Malik asked Pasha how he compared economic policies of the incumbent government to that of the former Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government.
Former finance minister Ishaq Dar artificially maintained the value of rupee which led to some issues, but it did not impact a common man, according to the economist. Inflation was not so high and the economy was growing at a rate of 5%.
Commenting on the incumbent government’s policies, Pasha said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government took major steps to fulfill the International Monetary Fund’s conditions.
It imposed Rs700 billion worth of new taxes, dropped rupee’s value, increased prices of electricity, gas, petrol and food items, he elaborated. The economist said all these steps added to the people’s woes.
Furthermore, Pasha said, the reduction in development budget hampered the country’s economic growth.