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Sherry slams govt as dollar rises on the street

ISLAMABAD, May 16, 2019: PPP Parliamentary Leader in Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman, said “The government is surpassing all records of its own failures. The US dollar has touched an all-time market rate high touching Rs. 148 on the ground against the rupee but the government keeps parroting “awam ne ghabrana nahi hai” [people should not worry]. A new wave of inflation is about to engulf the country as government enslaves itself without any filter to the IMF. Up next is a 15 per cent hike in power tariff which will affect multiple sectors across the country from the bottom of the economic ladder to once-thriving businesses. To make matters worse, the PTI government has already increased electricity tariffs by 33 per cent since taking charge. It is getting very difficult for a common man to survive in these testing times”.

“Experts are of the view that the dollar would further strengthen.The rupee has remained extremely volatile since PTI has come into power, before the recent historical plunge, it had lost its value against the dollar by 25 per cent. It’s becoming increasingly hard to predict anything in this environment, with investors skittish at their stakes, but we hope this is not the plan. Unfortunately this is the second time that the dollar has increased so drastically against the rupee. The latest spike has caused Pakistan’s foreign debt to increase by Rs. 666 billion. Who will be answerable for this? The government has clearly lost the plot, operating without providing predictability for any sector except the banks and currency exchange people. “

“Ironically, the continuing market plunge in the rupee’s value has come a day after the PM set up a committee to control its devaluation. The dollar is still very short in the market and the government has been unable to crack down on exchange companies who are likely hoarding the dollar, selling it at higher rates. One hopes he would promptly take action after catching the news on the television,” Rehman said.

“It has been agreed between Pakistan and the IMF that an “independent body” will be set up to determine the rupee rate to comply with IMF conditions. Who is in this independent body, and why is it bypassing statutory central bank responsibilities? There is no transparency in the formation of such bodies and which interests they represent. The central bank too now is well, the IMF. Let’s hope that changes, with the new governor looking first to protecting Pakistan’s people, not his last employer. This is not the country’s first IMF program, we have all implemented such programs in the past but the way the body has been given a free hand this time is unprecedented. Never before has it been allowed to be so intrusive and abandon so precipitously the managed float of the dollar. As governments our job was to negotiate and navigate policies that retained our own social priorities first and then the Fund’s confidence. It appears the country will be run via an unprecedented program of harsh and opaque terms while the ministers will be busy with ribbon-cutting,” concluded the Senator.

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