After electricity shock, govt drops petrol bomb on masses
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The new coalition government continued to test the patience of the already beleaguered masses as hours after increasing the electricity prices by Rs7.91, it increased the petrol and diesel prices by Rs30 per litre.
Miftah Ismael dropped the bombshell in a press conference in which he tried to justify the government’s actions that would definitely lead to a tsunami of inflation and would make it hard for people to survive.
Addressing a press conference, he said the decision has been made after getting the go-ahead from the prime minister.
The new price of petrol is Rs209.86 per litre, diesel Rs204.15 per litre, kerosene oil Rs181.94 per litre and light diesel Rs178.31 per litre.
The government announced a similar increase a week ago, inviting ire among the people who have already been finding it difficult to make both end meet.
Miftah said that it was a “difficult decision that will erode the political capital” of the government.
The ‘difficult decision’ is paving the way for reaching a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund by June 12.
"The IMF wants to see our budget, so the reforms that we want to introduce will be introduced before the budget. However, we are speaking to the IMF on a daily basis," he said in reply to a question.
He said the price hike was inevitable as he had to strike a deal with the international money lender as ex-finance minister Shaukat Tarin had "tied the government's hands" due to the agreements he made with the IMF during his tenure.
He said kerosene oil is the only commodity which is not leading to losses for the government. However, the government are facing losses of Rs8 on light diesel, Rs9 on petrol, and Rs23 on high-speed diesel and the IMF is asking to remove all the subsidies.
The finance minister admitted that the common persons will be at the receiving end but said the commodity’s rates are too high rate of oil has also sky-rocketed in the international market. He said the government would try its best to keep the price of sugar fixed at Rs70 per kg and wheat at Rs40 per kg at the utility stores.
He said the government was giving subsides of Rs100 on cooking oil and Rs15 on rice and pulses at the utility stores across the country. "The subsidies on cooking oil and ghee will continue for some time, but we will try to ensure — in line with PM Shehaz Sharif's directions — to keep the rates of sugar and wheat fixed."
Regarding the hike in electricity prices, the finance minister said he has "not seen" the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority's (NEPRA) report as of yet, but assured that the increase would not reflect on June's bills.
Nepra has raised the basic power tariff by Rs7.9078/kWh for the next fiscal year 2022-23, increasing the burden of inflation on the people of Pakistan.