ISLAMABAD: The rates of petroleum products in Pakistan are still low when compared to other regional countries, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said Friday, as he defended the recent hike in rates of petroleum products.
Tarin, addressing a press conference in Islamabad alongside Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib, said the government is charging only Rs2-2.5 petroleum levy despite the fact that Rs600 billion were fixed under this head.
He said Pakistan ranks 17th in the region when it comes to petrol prices.
“Prices in the international market have increased recently forcing the government to hike local prices,” he said, a day after the price of petrol was jacked up by Rs4 per litre and that of high speed diesel (HSD) by Rs2 per litre.
The minister blamed the previous government for the ills the country is facing today. “Pakistan became a food importer due to mismanagement during the last 30 years. We are currently importing wheat, sugar and pulses.”
Shaukat Tarin said Prime Minister Imran Khan stopped the ministry from increasing the levy as he wanted to lessen the burden on the masses. “This is the reason we want to give direct subsidy to the lower-income group.”
He said the PTI government is undertaking efforts to enhance agricultural output.
The minister further said that steps are being taken to control the prices of essential commodities. The minister assured the nation that in six days, the prices of ghee will come down to Rs300 per kg.
Tareen lamented that when it comes to commodities, the middleman earns huge profits. He said that the administration is restoring the post of price magistrate to reduce inflation.
Crediting the steps taken by the government for tax collection, he said the Federal Board of Revenue has achieved more revenue than the target it was given. “If the economy grows, its effects will be visible to the people.”
Govt taking comprehensive plan to IMF
Shaukat Tareen said the government is taking a big comprehensive plan to the International Monetary Fund.
“I hope we will be heard in the IMF. We will have talks on revenue and the power sector.”
Noting that the revenue collection has increased by up to 40%, he admitted that there are challenges in the power sector.
“Increasing power tariff is not the solution,” he said.
Meanwhile, PPP’s Senator Sherry Rehman slammed the government for dropping a “petrol bomb” on the masses in times of extreme inflation.
She said that petrol prices now stand at Rs127.3/l while during the PPP’s govt in 2013, international oil prices remained high due to the global financial crisis, yet the price at home was “nowhere close to the tsunami it is now”.
“PTIMF is the opposite of what it promised: it does exactly what IMF says, borrows like no govt before and tells people the good days are here.”
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