Waking up to unbridled inflation, Tarin vows cash subsidies on flour, sugar
Hopes to see decline in wheat price in coming days: Says govt also giving attention to enhancing people’s purchasing power
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Federal Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin on Tuesday announced that the government will start giving targeted subsidies from this month to the weak segments of the society on essential commodities including sugar, flour and pulses, waking up to the uncontrolled inflation which the people experience during the last few days.
Addressing a news conference along with Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib and Special Assistant on Food Security Jamshed Cheema in Islamabad, Tarin said the targeted subsidy will be in the form of cash assistance, which will cover 35 to 40 percent population.
Tarin said the government is also focusing on bolstering the agriculture productivity. In the medium to long term, commodity warehouses, cold storages and agri malls will be established with the aim to eliminate the role of middle man and ensure that the farmers get due price of their products.
The minister said strategic reserves of major commodities are also being built in order to ensure smooth supplies in the market. He said that the prices of wheat will see decline in the coming days.
Tarin said the government has tried its level best not to fully pass on to the masses the impact of international increase in the prices of commodities.
He pointed out that sugar prices increased by 48 percent in the world market but we only increased its price by 11 percent. Palm oil saw an increase of 50 percent but we increased the price by 33 to 35 percent. Similarly the prices of crude oil and wheat were not enhanced as per the international market.
The minister said the government is also giving attention to enhance the incomes of the people to enhance their purchasing power.
Tarin said that Kamyab Pakistan Programme will be launched this month in order to enable the weak segments of the society earn their livelihoods.
Tarin said that the results of our growth strategy are visible and the revenue collection is increasing. He said the government was on track to achieve five percent growth during the current fiscal year. This, he said, will also help reduce our debt to GDP ratio.
As regards the state-owned enterprises, the minister said they have to turn around them. He said a board is being established in the privatization ministry in order to run the state-owned enterprises on professional lines. He said these enterprises will be privatized after turning them around.
Tarin claimed that inflation was not only a Pakistan specific issue. “Unlike rest of the world where prices of sugar, wheat and cooking oil were increased by 70 per cent to 95 per cent, in Pakistan their rates were increased only by 15 per cent to 20 per cent,” he said, adding that compared to the international market, there was least hike in the prices of these food items.
Predicting that food items’ prices would be different 10 years from now, the minister admitted that people’s income could not be increased during the last few years. “Therefore, there is a need to take steps to increase people’s income because this will lessen the burden of inflation on their purses,” he asserted.
Tarin said that country’s revenues were increasing due to improving economic situation. “We are going to launch Kamyab Pakistan Programme this month which will help 40 to 60 million families stand on their own feet,” he informed.
He further said the government would further expand the network of Sehat Cards.
Admitting that loans posed a real challenge to the country’s economy, the minister said that these also included the amounts borrowed to augment the reserves of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
He disclosed that foreign loans had reached Rs81.1 billion from Rs74 billion.
Tarin said Pak Rupee had lost its value against the US dollar because Pakistan had approached the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the financial assistance.