Pakistani premier Imran Khan imposes austerity mini-budget
Athiyan Silva and Kumaran Ira
2 October 2018
After coming into power by exploiting social anger and anti-war sentiment, the ruling Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI) of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is positioning itself to drop his limited electoral promises and attack the working class with deep budget cuts. Khan’s pro-austerity and pro-imperialist line have been exposed barely two months after his election. At the same time, he is aligning Pakistan with US imperialism while seeking to renegotiate financial deals with China.
On September 18, the PTI presented the 2018 Finance Supplementary (Amendment) Bill, dubbed the “mini-budget,” in the National Assembly. The mini-budget was closely coordinated with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and was presented after Pakistani officials held a video conference with the IMF officials at the Finance Ministry.
Presenting the budget, Finance Minister Asad Umar claimed that Pakistan faces “difficult times” and called for “difficult” measures to slash budget deficits. Noting that the budget deficit had grown to 6.6 percent from 4.1 percent, Umar said: “The most dangerous situation is that if we continue as we have, the budget deficit will expand 7.2 percent by the end of the ongoing year. This is the assessment of the finance ministry as well as economic experts.”
Umar claimed these measures were the only way to halt the fall in the rupee’s value against the dollar and save Pakistan’s plunging economy, warning that the country’s foreign exchange reserves had fallen to the equivalent of two months’ worth of imports. While Pakistan’s foreign currency reserves have plunged to $9.3 billion, external debt stands at $92 billion.
Umar said that…