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Saturday, July 13, 2024  
06 Muharram 1446  

Tough times ahead for Pakistan, analysts weigh in on luxury import ban

Emergency measures were necessary, and should have been taken earlier, says financial expert Farrukh Saleem
PHOTO: Screengrab from Aaj Pakistan
PHOTO: Screengrab from Aaj Pakistan

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led government has been in hot water since it took over, especially as far as the economy is concerned, with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif imposing an emergency ban on the import of luxury goods.

Pakistan is suffering from a deficit of at least Rs50 billion, which has never happened in the country’s history, said financial expert Farrukh Saleem while talking about the government’s recent move on Sidra Iqbal’s morning show, Aaj Pakistan.

“The day Imran Khan was ousted, the State Bank of Pakistan had around $10.8 billion dollars. If you look at the deficient and the import bill we were incurring, there is no way Pakistan could afford imports of $70 billion, our treasury cannot bear it and it was not sustainable.”

Out of the $10.8 billion, at least $4 billion is in gold.

“Emergency measures were necessary and I would have preferred that these decisions were taken earlier,” said Saleem.

In the past, PML-N had frozen the foreign accounts of Pakistani citizens, when asked if such a move is possible again, Saleem said he was not an astrologer.

“The deficit between our imports and exports is so high that to balance it out we should take every possible measure. If the IMF talks are successful, it will also put us in a better position to ask friendly countries such as Saudia Arabia and China for loans. This way it will not come to desperate measures like blocking accounts,” he added.

The situation is so bad that no matter what measures we take to revive the economy, they will be desperate, opined news analyst and journalist Nazir Leghari. He compared the country’s situation to Sri Lanka and said in both countries, the establishment has tried to bring people they are fond of into power but the model has failed miserably. “Such decisions destroy economies.” Sri Lanka has seen violent protests, with ministers being dragged out of their houses, properties being burnt and widespread destruction, despite a literacy rate of 96%.
“For the past 45 years we have only been taught hate and extremism of all kinds, including religious and political. State elements are still supporting this extremism. This was another reason why the economy was destroyed,” Leghari said. “It may be the need of the hour to have an early election, whether someone likes it or not. I personally think the assembly should complete its term. Even after the election, the country will not be out of trouble,” he concluded.

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Shehbaz Sharif