Sunday May 15 2022
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PM Shehbaz Sharif refuses to hike petroleum prices: Miftah Ismail

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Finance Minister Miftah Ismail addresses a press conference at PID. — APP
Finance Minister Miftah Ismail addresses a press conference at PID. — APP
  • Finance minister says govt will not raise petrol prices today.
  • Adds govt may revisit decision due to changing circumstances, int'l oil prices.
  • Says PTI-led govt brought country to the brink of economic disaster.

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Miftah Ismail on Sunday said that the government has no intention to increase the prices of petroleum products for now.

Addressing a press conference, the finance minister said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has rejected the proposal to hike petroleum prices today, saying that the government could not put further burden on the masses.

Later, taking to Twitter, he wrote that while the prices of petroleum products will not be increased as of now, the government may have to "revisit the decision soon" owning to changing circumstances and international oil prices.

Criticising the PTI-led government, Miftah said during the presser that the former finance minister Shaukat Tarin had promised the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the then government would abolish all the subsidies on petrol.

Referring to the devaluation of the rupee, the finance minister said that the dollar was at Rs115 during the PML-N's previous tenure, but it surged to Rs189 during the four-year term of the PTI’s government.

"The PTI-led government brought the country to the brink of economic disaster," he said. "We are trying to mend the situation now."

Ismail further said that the current coalition government was also working to improve the agriculture sector of the country and added that the previous government did nothing to alleviate the sector.

He added that during the PTI government's tenure, wheat and fertiliser were smuggled into Afghanistan. Moreover, illegal urea and pesticides were sold during the PTI's era, he said and added that "not a single penny was spent on seeds in the last four years."

"If we cannot fix agriculture then the country cannot move forward. Imports are moving at a rate of Rs75 billion, while Pakistan's exports are at Rs30 billion," he said.

"We'll take corrective measures and will import edible oil worth $4 billion, while we will not import any sugar during the current fiscal year." 

Speaking about the government's talks with the IMF, Ismail added:  “I am going to negotiate with the IMF and will resolve all the issues in a better manner."

Stabilisation of rupee

As the Pakistani rupee continued its downward streak against the greenback, Ismail on Saturday vowed that the government would take all possible measures to stabilise the local unit and the foreign currency market.

Presiding over a meeting of the heads of major exchange companies, Ismail expressed the firm resolve of the government to ensure stability in the foreign currency market.

"The government is committed to taking all possible measures to keep the rupee vis-a-vis the dollar stable without interfering with the market mechanism," he added.

State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) deputy governor and senior officers were also among the attendees of the meeting.

The exchange companies presented a number of proposals to stabilise the forex market and improve the foreign exchange position in Pakistan.

"It was proposed that the exchange companies should be facilitated to increase the flow of home remittances to Pakistan," a statement said. "They suggested measures to curb the outflow of foreign exchange from Pakistan through informal channels."

The exchange companies assured that if the measures were implemented, there would be appreciation and stability in the value of the rupee.

The finance minister assured the participants that all possible steps would be undertaken to protect and strengthen the economy of the country, which would result in improving the rupee value.