PM cuts fuel prices, power tariff as anti-inflation marchers move on

ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday announced slashing prices of petroleum products and electricity tariff to provide massive relief to the inflation hit people.

In his address to the nation, the premier said that the prices of petrol and diesel would be reduced by ten rupees per litre and electricity by five rupees per unit.

The Prime Minister also announced to award internship to all jobless graduates worth 30,000 rupees per month. He said 26,000 scholarships, costing 38 billion rupees, will be given to students. The Prime Minister said all IT companies and freelancers will be entitled to zero tax regime. He also announced to withdraw capital gain tax on IT startups.

Talking about government’s Sehat Sahulat programme, Imran Khan said entire families of Punjab will get health cards by the end of the next month. He said the limit of Ehsas Cash Programme has been increased from 12,000 rupees to 14,000 rupees.

The Prime Minister said interest free loans will be provided under Kamyab Pakistan Programme. He said farmers will also be entitled to get loan under this programme. He said an amount of 407 billion rupees has been allocated for this purpose.

He said no question will asked for industrial investment. He said we aimed at revival of sick units through tax benefits and there will be a five-year tax holiday on joint ventures to attract overseas investment.

Regarding amendments in the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act, the Prime Minister said this law was introduced in 2016 and his government is only amending the law to eliminate fake news, indecent content, especially the child pornography on social media.

He said around 94,000 cases are pending before the Federal Investigation Agency regarding harassment of women and indecency. He said only 38 of them have so far been decided, which shows the lacuna in law to deal with such acts. He said mafias are busy in blackmailing in the name of freedom of expression.

Imran Khan said credible journalists are a great asset for the country and they should be happy that PECA law will help end fake news.

| In his TV address to nation, Imran Khan announces Rs 30,000 per month internship for jobless graduates | IT companies, freelancers entitled to zero tax regime | Says he believes in an independent foreign policy | We are going to import wheat and gas from Russia

PECA law will help end fake news: PM

Talking about his recent visits to China and Russia, the Prime Minister said these tours will have far reaching impact on country’s economy. He said we are going to import two million tons of wheat and gas from Russia, while we have better understanding on the second phase of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that will boost Pakistan’s economy. Imran Khan said he believes in an independent foreign policy in the best interest of the people of Pakistan.

He urged the people to not vote for a party, whose leaders were involved in corruption and stashed their looted wealth abroad as such parties cannot pursue an independent foreign policy.

The prime minister in his 40-minute speech spoke at length on multiple issues of national importance, including the foreign policy, amendment in the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) Ordinance, and his government’s challenges and achievements including on the economic front.

“We came out of a difficult time then the world was hit by Coronavirus – the biggest crisis of the century.” The economies of countries like India and Europe suffered economic setbacks due to the pandemic, he added. He said Pakistan effectively dealt with coronavirus and subsequent lockdowns, supply chain disruptions and commodity prices hikes.

Talking about economic malaise suffered by the country, he said Pakistan was using imported fuel, cooking oil and pulses and was generating electricity from imported fuel. He recounted that the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Turkey were hit by highest inflation hikes in the last 30-40 years.

He mentioned that inflation during the past tenures of Peoples Party was more than 10 percent while in the tenures of Pakistan Muslim League-N inflation hovered close to 10 percent. The international oil prices were lowest during the last tenure of PML-N, he added. He said Pakistan’s economy grew by 5.6 percent as verified by the World Bank.

The remittances from overseas Pakistanis rose to $ 31 billion, Pakistan recorded the highest level of exports and its foreign exchange reserves rose to $ 23.2 billion. Exports of Pakistan increased less in the past tenures when exports of other countries were rising. Despite recommendation of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA), he was not raising price of petrol, he asserted.

He said banks had already approved loans of Rs 150 billion for low cost housing and Rs 50 billion had been disbursed.

He said every citizen would be given health insurance of Rs one million.

“My government is only thinking about providing relief to the people,” he said adding Bloomberg magazine and International Monetary Fund had stated that Pakistan was on the right economic path.

The prime minister said contrary to his desire for a Pakistan with an independent foreign policy, the country joined the US-led war on terror and suffered 80,000 casualties, displacement of 3.5 million and $150 billion economic loss despite it having nothing to do with the 9/11.

In spite of getting its support, the US carried out around 400 drone attacks in Pakistan which the prime minister called the “most shameful.”

He said for sake of their legitimacy, the dictators easily fell prey to superpowers usually but ironically, only 10 drone attacks were made in Pervez Musharraf’ tenure against 400 in those of Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif who failed to speak against the killings of the innocent people.

 

He said even a sitting prime minister and his family are not spared from fake news and that even he could not get justice even after three years in a defamation case. He said recently, a woman was fined by a UK court over defamation and added that Communications Minister Murad Saeed was also considering registration a case there.

Imran Khan said media also alleged that Shaukat Khanum Hospital’s funding was landing into PTI account without even getting the official version. The hospital is also going to file a case against Jang Group in the UK and the US where it was registered as charity, he added.

“It happens nowhere in the world. Here are the mafias blackmailing in name of the freedom of press. They have different agendas. They are blackmailing and mudslinging against government,” he commented.

Calling it essential for the country, he said the PECA had nothing to do with the freedom of press. Instead, good journalists should be happy over the curb of fake news as it would enhance their credibility. Referring to fake news by three leading national newspapers alleging the selection of the AJK prime minister through some sort of necromancy, he said had it happened in the west, they would have to sell out their companies to pay for the libel.

 

Facilitating IT sector to top priority: PM

 

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said that facilitating the Information Technology (IT) sector to create huge employment opportunities for the tech-savvy youth in the country, was the government’s top priority.

“Special Technology Zones are being established in major cities to facilitate IT professionals. For this purpose, Compliance Regime has been introduced in place of NOC Regime”, he added.

The Prime Minister was chairing 4th meeting of the Board of Governors of Special Technology Zones Authority (STZA).

He highlighted that youth constituted around 68% of the country’s population, and IT sector had the full potential to engage them productively for socio-economic uplift.

Earlier the Board of Governors approved to declare various technology and innovation clusters in Islamabad as Special Technology Zones to create enabling environment for the IT sector to utilize existing infrastructure for the growth of tech startups and freelancers.

The Prime Minister directed the authorities concerned to take all possible measures for the creation of tech-friendly ecosystem in the country.

These measures include tax holiday for the registered Tech Startups and freelancers, launch of Pakistan Technology Startup Fund, and attracting local and foreign Venture Capital funding in startups.

The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, Information Minister Ch Fawad Hussain, Energy Minister Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Industries Minister Khusro Bakhtyar, Special Assistant to PM (SAPM) on Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar, SAPM on Political Communication Dr Shehbaz Gill, Chairman STZA Amir Hashmi, Chairman CDA Amir Ali Ahmed and other senior officers.

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