Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that political instability was the most ‘alarming factor’ leading to detrioration of the economy, and state institutions were in agreement with the government to ensure the country was stable enough to move forward.
“There is a concerted effort to promote political instability in the country,” he said while speaking to the cabinet ahead of the budget session. He added that foreign investments and local businessmen had both been discouraged by the political protests of the last year.
Shehbaz said that his government had fulfilled all conditions laid down by the International Monetary Fund, but the staff level agreement was yet to be signed.
He said he had asked the IMF chief for a ‘verbal commitment’ so he could proceed with removing other hurdles to the budget.
“The previous government had abandoned the IMF program,” Shehbaz said. He also blamed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf for destorying the economy and said his government had worked hard in the last 14 months to set things right.
“Inflation is high everywhere in the world today,” he said. “The challenge before us is to to make life easier for the ordinary person.”
Shehbaz said that the government had consulted businessman and exporters before finalising the budget. He added that he had reached the conclusion that the agriculture sector in particular could give Pakistan higher returns quickly.
The prime minister said that young men were losing interest in agriculture after getting education but the government had planned newer measures to incentivize agriculture. This, he added, would also lower rural to urban migration.
“We must look into raising salaries and pensions so the ordinary man can survive in this economy,” Shehbaz said.
He also said that the government was hopeful of signing a new gas contract to fulfill Pakistan’s energy needs.