Friday May 27 2022

PM Shehbaz Sharif to announce 'relief package' in address to nation today

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. — Reuters/File
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. — Reuters/File

  • PM Shehbaz to take the nation into confidence over prevailing economic situation.
  • Shed light on decision to remove subsidies on petroleum products.
  • Apprise nation on government's future course of action.

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will announce a relief package for the poor in an address to the nation today (Friday), Geo News reported.

Sources privy to the matter said that the premier will take the nation into confidence over the prevailing economic situation of the country and shed light on the government's decision to remove subsidies on petroleum products. 

Apart from announcing the relief package for the poor sections of society, PM Shehbaz Sharif will also apprise the nation of the government's next plan of action.

Last night, the government announced a massive hike of up to Rs30 in the prices of petroleum products for the revival of the $6 billion IMF loan programme.

Pakistan and the IMF failed to strike a staff-level agreement after holding week-long negotiations because the government was reluctant to withdraw unfunded fuel and energy subsidies.

The IMF had asked the government to move “urgently” and after his return from Doha, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail took the approval of the premier and announced an increase in POL prices.

Announcing the decision on Thursday, Miftah said increasing the price of petroleum products by Rs30 was not an easy decision for the premier, but vowed that the incumbent government would take steps to safeguard the economy.

‘Incompetent and insensitive’

Lambasting the Shehbaz Sharif-led government for the hike in petrol prices, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said that the nation would “suffer another massive dose of inflation at the hands of this cabal of crooks”.

“Nation starting to pay price for imported government’s subservience before foreign masters with 20%/Rs30 per litre hike in petrol and diesel prices — the highest single price hike in our history,” said the PTI chairman.

Calling the incumbent government “incompetent and insensitive”, the former prime minister slammed them for not pursuing the deal the last government had signed with Russia for 30% cheaper oil.

“In contrast, India, a strategic ally of the US, has managed to reduce fuel prices by PKR 25/litre by buying cheaper oil from Russia. Now our nation will suffer another massive dose of inflation at the hands of this cabal of crooks,” said Imran Khan.

'A step in the right direction'

Meanwhile, Pakistan Business Council has supported the government on the matter and advised the authorities to reduce the work week in order to cut the consumption of fuel.

“The decision to partially withdraw the general subsidy on fuel is belated but a step in the right direction to stem the pressure on the twin accounts. What about a conservation drive? Reduced work week, WFH? 1 day/week saves $167 M/month with no political fallout,” the PBC said in a tweet.

“It would be appropriate to accompany the phasing out of general fuel subsidy with the introduction of targeted subsidy for the most deserving. That would limit any political fallout. Important that there are no U-turns from strengthening the solvency of the country.”