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PML-Q gives five-point agenda to govt

ISLAMABAD: A government team briefed PML-Q leaders on Wednesday that with an 8.3 fiscal deficit projected for the current fiscal year the country`s financial condition was in dire straits.

Chaudhry ShujaatThe team, set up by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani last week, held similar meetings with leaders of the PML-N, MQM and ANP on Tuesday in its move to evolve national consensus on a plan to steer the country out of the economic crisis.

Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, who heads the government team, told PML-Q leaders that the objective of the consultation was to reach an understanding with the political leadership so that a legislation could be introduced in parliament to improve the economic and financial situation.

The Q-League team comprised its president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, secretary general Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Riaz Hussain Pirzada, Marvi Memon and Nilofar Bakhtiar.

From the government side, Petroleum Minister Naveed Qamruzzaman, Water and Power Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, Law Minister Babar Awan and Minister of State for Economic Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar took part in the meeting besides Dr Hafeez Sheikh.

During the meeting, Chaudhry Shujaat handed over a five-point political agenda to the government team. He said the agenda was workable as it would have no political repercussion and would not put additional financial burden on the government.

Talking to Dawn after the meeting, Ms Marvi said: “Unless the government comes up with a definite plan of cutting its expenditures there would be no use of such consultations. They should end mismanagement and corruption within the government if they want any cooperation from us.”

The government team briefed the PML-Q leaders on the state of economy and revenue, fiscal deficit, burden of oil subsidy the government had to bear after abandoning its plans to levy the RGST and withdrawal of the latest increase in prices of petroleum products under political pressure.

The finance minister said the government first wanted the national leadership to have a detailed and realistic picture of the state of the country`s economy before it came up with its own strategy to meet the challenge.

Chaudhry Shujaat and Mr Mushahid in their remarks before reporters said they found the economic condition precarious but did not see the possibility of imposing an economic emergency for the time being.

The PML-Q`s agenda calls for providing immediate relief to people by cutting or controlling prices of essential items, steps to minimise or end loadshedding of gas and electricity, maintaining law and order with particular reference to abductions for ransom in Sindh and Balochistan, bringing back the money and assets of politicians and bureaucrats from abroad and publishing the list of those who since 1985 took bank loans and then got away with it.

The party said that Pakistan`s foreign policy should be reframed keeping in view its interests in the region by seeking early resolution of the Kashmir issue which, according to it, was a big hurdle in the way of economic turnaround.

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