- Prime Minister says Pakistan has 'fared relatively much better' in this situation
Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Covid-19 lockdowns resulted in increasing commodity prices that affected most countries in the world, a statement that comes amid widespread criticism on rising inflation, and hike in fuel prices.
In a tweet on Sunday, he said "while an unprecedented rise in commodity prices internationally has adversely affected most countries in the world as a result of Covid lockdowns, Pakistan MashaAllah has fared relatively much better".
Khan also shared a video link showing an analyst drawing the conclusion from data that Pakistan's economy is developing and the country is performing and progressing well in the current scenario as compared with the other regional countries.
In the video, the spokesperson of the finance minister, Muzzamil Aslam, claimed that those who are criticising the crashing economy have nothing substantive in their criticism. He said it is true the prices of basic essentials witnessed an unprecedented hike, but this is due to an increase in prices across the globe.
The spokesperson claimed that economic indicators are showing an upward trend. Aslam said the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in its report said that during Sept-Oct, there was 3.9 percent increase in food inflation.
He said the World Cereal Index increased by 3.2 percent, adding that edible oil prices witnessed 9.6 percent hike in Oct. There is a 2.6pc increase in the prices of dairy products in Oct, he quoted the report as saying.
He claimed that Pakistan's economy is progressing despite all these hurdles.
Khan's comment comes after the government increased the prices of petroleum products and essential commodities.
Opposition demands govt to withdraw price-hike
The move drew widespread criticism by opposition and the public, demanding the government to withdraw the rise in prices.
In a statement, Opposition Leader and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said that since the incumbent government has come to power, it has brought the entire nation to "the ration card".
He said that over the past three years, the price of edible oil has increased by over 130%.
The PML-N president added that the price of edible oil has gone up from Rs160 to Rs369 which is unjustified. Shehbaz stated that the hike in prices of petroleum products is proof that the government does not care about the poor-income groups.
"Increasing the prices of petrol and diesel by Rs8 per litre will also have a direct effect on prices of other items. It has become difficult for the common man to live," he said.
He said it was in the best interests of the entire nation and the masses that the prime minister "goes home instead of wreaking further havoc", adding that inflation, unemployment and "economic destruction" do not go away merely via allegations of corruption.
Similarly, PPP parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman slammed the prime minister's decision of increasing the oil prices, saying the PM has failed to give relief to the people. “The prime minister is not giving relief but, in fact, he is asking for it,” she said.
She lamented that everything would get costlier with the hike in petroleum prices as weekly inflation index has already shot up to 14.31 percent. The senator demanded that the government withdraw the recent hike.
PPP information secretary Shazia Marri warned that if the government did not decrease prices, there would be such a reaction that the "government will not be able to survive".
She called on the people to be prepared as the PPP would soon announce plans for a protest. "The time for accountability has arrived," she said.
Rise in fuel prices
The government late Thursday night again increased the prices of petroleum products. The new price of petrol was notified at Rs145.82 per litre, an increase of Rs8.03 from Rs137.79 earlier. Similarly, the price of high speed diesel price was hiked to Rs142.62 per litre, an increase of Rs8.14 from Rs134.48.
Price of kerosene was increased by Rs6.27, which took the rate to Rs116.53, while light diesel oil is now at Rs114.07 after an upward revision of Rs5.72.
On November 1, the prime minister had not agreed to the proposals worked out by the finance ministry and OGRA, and decided to maintain the prices, read a notification issued by the finance division.
However, in his 'relief package' address, Khan said that a price-increase in petroleum products was in the offing as the government was unable to take a hit on its revenue.
"I understand that inflation is a serious issue, but I want the media to put a balanced narrative. Is my government responsible for global inflation?
"In the past 3-4 months, oil prices have increased 100% globally but the increase in Pakistan is only 33%. I want to tell you that we will have to increase the oil prices in our country, otherwise our deficit will grow."