Shaukat Tarin defends rise in petroleum prices
Says POL prices lowest in Pakistan: Maintains inflation will be decreased soon: Hopes economy will grow by 5% or more
Tarin was addressing a press conference along with Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib in Islamabad on Friday.
The finance minister said that the prices of petrol were rising all over the world due to Covid-19 pandemic. He stated that Ogra recommended Rs8/litre increase in the petrol prices but Prime Minister Imran Khan approved a raise of Rs4 per litre. The government has to bear a loss of Rs2 billion because of this, he added.
He was of the view that currently, the petrol prices in Pakistan were at number 17 when compared to the prices at international level. Petrol still is being sold cheap in Pakistan, he maintained adding that ‘we want to make petrol cheaper’.
Tarin said that the petrol levy was Rs30 per litre in 2018 which is now Rs2-2.5 per litre. He held though the government set a levy target in the annual budget, but still it was not collecting the levy.
He articulated that coronavirus pandemic caused inflation all over the world. He said that in England, the rate of inflation has reached 31%.
He opined that Pakistan imports food that’s why it is seriously affected by inflation. He said that government was increasing the agricultural produce.
The minister said that in a few days, prices of ghee would come down from Rs300, adding that 12.5 million houses would be given direct food subsidy. 40% population would be benefitted from it.
Tarin was of the view that middleman was earning extra profit so the government would restore the office of price management. He informed that administrative action would be taken to decrease inflation.
He hailed that the FBR collected revenue which exceeded target predicting that economy would grow and soon people would realize its effects.
He told media that government would launch Kamyab Pakistan Programme and small farmers would be given interest-free loans amounting to Rs150,000 for every crop. For setting up business, government would provide Rs0.5 million interest-free loans. Every household will be given health card. And technical training will be bestowed on one person in every family.
Tarin stated that in annual budget 2021/22, Rs5 billion were allocated for population census by the federal government adding that provinces would provide rest of the amount for the census. He said Rs5 billion would be spent this year and next year, provinces would provide money for it as the population census was a big project, it could not be completed in 12 months.
When asked, would the census be completed before next general elections, he showed his optimism saying the census would be completed before next elections which are going to be held in 2023.
He said there was an agreement in the Council of Common Interests that the previous census was flawed and a new census should be held. He said if no difference would be found in old and new census, then government would determine who would be responsible.
He said that in March 2021, the debt-to-GDP ratio was 79.7% whereas according to the FRDL Act, this ratio should not exceed 60%. In March 2020, the debt-to-GDP ratio was 87.6%. He said his government tried to reduce the ratio.
He held previous governments responsible for devaluation which has increased debt ratio. He revealed that the debt servicing was increased by Rs1,500 billion.
He sounded optimistic that since revenue was rising, it would accelerate growth. He predicted that this year, growth rate would be 5% or higher.