Opposition rejects government’s economic growth rhetoric, vows to oppose budget – Pakistan
Opposition leaders gathered on Friday to reject the government’s stance on economic growth and development in today’s budget session, saying they will join hands to give it “a tough time” on the federal budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
Speaking to media in Islamabad alongside PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari after the National Assembly budget session, PML-N Chairman Shehbaz Sharif said: “All opposition parties in parliament have decided that we would give the government a hard time and expose it, the false numbers they showed and the distortion [in numbers] they did it.”
He lambasted the government’s speech on the state of the economy, wondering how the economy could improve when “the poor [man] is dying, he cannot have bread for one meal, there is a wave of poverty and unemployment in the country. ”
Shehbaz said these issues would be jointly addressed in parliament and that “we will give the government a hard time to pass the budget.”
Bilawal also lambasted today’s budget presentation and said it did not match reality, saying even people who listened to the speech would have thought it was another country’s budget. .
He said that the position of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance on economic development as the country faced “historic poverty, unemployment and inflation” carried no weight and was akin to “putting salt on the wounds of the suffering Pakistani people.
The PPP chairman also expressed his support for a united opposition front to challenge the budget, saying: “We believe that the differences of the opposition and other political parties have their own place. [but] we must jointly challenge this budget and this unqualified, unfit and selected government.
“As I promised before you, we unconditionally give all the votes of the PPP deputies against this budget to the leader of the opposition (in the National Assembly) Shehbaz Sharif to use against this government.”
Last week Bilawal said the PPP would support Shehbaz on the budget despite inappropriate behavior by some PML-N members. Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, he said: “I unconditionally say to Shehbaz Sharif in front of the media that all PPP members will be in your support with regard to parliament and this. [upcoming] budget despite crises [of some PML-N members]. “
Ahead of today’s budget session, Bilawal chaired a meeting of the parliamentary PPP committee to decide on the party’s strategy for the session. He ordered PPP lawmakers to give the government “a hard time”, saying the PTI had designed an “anti-poor”, “political” and “selected” budget.
Bilawal also joined a protest by government workers outside Parliament today and asked why the protesters were not getting their salaries or getting a raise despite claims of government economic development.
Deploring the 10 percent wage increase proposed by the government in the budget, he said “at least a 30pc increase [in salaries] should have been done […] and the minimum wage should have at least been raised to 25,000 rupees. ”
He said all the opposition demanded that injustice to government employees and white collar workers not be tolerated, adding that “we will raise your demands on home soil and do all we can to stop this budget. ”
Meanwhile, PML-N chief Ahsan Iqbal also slammed the government’s proposed 10% wage increase, calling it “the worst joke” and akin to “putting salt on their wounds (from the employee class) “.
“We reject it,” he said, adding that at least a 25% increase in wages should have been made to make up for the lack of increase in the past three years.