Ahead of IMF talks, govt keeps fuel price locked

Islamabad – Finance Minister Miftah Ismail Sunday announced the government’s decision of keeping the fuel prices unchanged and said ‘for today’ there is no intention of increasing  the  rates but it will be adjusted in future.

“Let me amplify what I just said in my presser. The government will not raise POL prices today. But due to changing circumstances and international oil prices, we may have to revisit our decision soon,” the minister tweeted late Sunday.

Earlier, addressing a press conference, the finance minister said that he had recommended to Prime Minister to increase the prices for upcoming fortnightly but he was against putting burden on masses.

“Rising petrol prices causes surge in food prices, which is the core of inflation and affects a common man directly,” he said while speaking to reporters here at the Press Information Department (PID).

“I am going to IMF, I will talk to them again, we will find a solution, I will not tell a lie, I have recommended hike in prices, but my prime Minister is not in favour of putting the burden [increased oil prices] on masses saying people cannot bear it” he said.” I said ok we will talk to IMF and will find a middle way,” he added.

However, he stressed that he is not saying that the government will never increase the oil  prices but the point is, it is not being increased today, but it can  be adjusted any time in the future keeping in view international prices. “I assure you that jointly with IMF we will resolve the issue amicably, he said, adding that they will find a middle way.

He informed that the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) mission is due in Qatar on May 18th, for a review meeting and would inform them about the decision taken in this regard.

Finance minister says not raising petrol prices but govt ‘may have to revisit decision’ of rolling back fuel subsidies soon | Miftah ‘will talk to IMF to find a middle way’

Targeting the PTI government, the finance minister  said that the previous government had “promised” the IMF in December last that the primary deficit would be Rs25bn and the total deficit would be around Rs4,000bn. However, against the promised target, the primary deficit has jumped from Rs25bn to Rs1,320bn. How is it possible for the new government to cut it down in a two and a half months, Miftah questioned.

The IMF had ended its loan programme for Pakistan but the PTI government had been requesting the Fund to not make it public, the finance minister alleged.

The minister reiterated that they honour the promises that Imran Khan did with the IMF, since they were the sovereign promises of Pakistan’s prime minister. However, the impossible conditions such as opening of CPEC will not be fulfilled, he added. Former finance minister Shaukat Tarin had committed with IMF to increasing petrol levy to Rs30/litre along with other taxes, the minister said.

He said that they won’t do this as there is a lot of inflation and there will be further inflation if petrol and diesel are made expensive.

Miftah criticised the PTI government’s economic performance on various other fronts, claiming it had failed to reduce expenditure, devalued the rupee, increased imports and failed to hike tax-to-GDP ratio among other things. The production of all the major crops decreased during the PTI’s tenure, he claimed.

The minister said Pakistan’s imports were about to increase to $75bn and he would soon present recommendations to curb it. Exports and remittance would be $30bn each while the trade deficit will be $45bn. He said that the current account deficit would be $15bn, he added.

 

He said PTI government has destroyed economy of the country. He said this year wheat worth of 1.5 billion dollars will have to be imported. Miftah Ismail said prices of flour soared up from 35 rupees per kg to 80 rupees per kg in last four years.

Talking about sugar price, Miftah Ismail said that government is providing cheap sugar and it has directed to further decrease the price of commodity. He also said the government will not import sugar this year.

 

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail also said that the government is committed to take all possible measures to keep Pak rupee vis-à-vis the US Dollar stable without interfering into market mechanism.

Presiding over a meeting with heads of all the major Exchange Companies of Pakistan at Finance Division in Islamabad on Saturday, he expressed firm resolve of the Government to ensure stability in the Forex market.

He assured the participants that all possible steps would be undertaken to protect and strengthen the economy of Pakistan that would result in improving the value of Pak rupee. He affirmed that the present government is determined to make Pakistan a prosperous and developed country.

Various proposals were presented by the heads of Exchange companies in this regard. It was proposed that the exchange companies should be facilitated to increase the flow of home remittances to Pakistan.  The Exchange companies assured that if these measures are implemented, there will be appreciation and stability in the value of Pak rupee.

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