- Defends Russia visit timing and promulgation of PECA ordinance, steps up criticism of Zardari and the Sharifs
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has reduced petroleum products’ prices by Rs10 per litre and electricity tariff by Rs5 per unit.
In a televised address to the nation on state-owned television on Monday, the PM said he received a summary from the OGRA for increase in petrol price by Rs10 per litre, and instead of increasing it, the government has decided to reduce oil prices by Rs10 per litre.
Similarly, he said that the government has decided to reduce electricity tariff by Rs5 per unit, which means the electricity bill would be reduced by 20 to 25 percent.
He said that the government had decided not to increase prices of oil and electricity till the next budget. He said that subsequent to Ukraine war, the prospect of decrease in oil prices is not expected.
He said that the oil prices are lowest in Pakistan compared to other countries. He asked the opposition, which was criticizing the government on petrol prices, how they would reduce the oil prices. He said Rs70 billion subsidy is being provided; otherwise, petrol price would be over Rs210 per litre.
The Prime Minister announced 100 percent tax exemption for both companies and freelancers in the IT sector, 100 percent foreign exchange exemption, and 100 percent exemption from capital gain tax for investments in IT startups.
The premier said that no question would be asked for industrial investment, adding the details of industrial policy would be shared with the media today (Tuesday) at Lahore. The policy envisages revival of sick units through tax benefits and to attract overseas investment (joint ventures) tax holiday would be available for five years. He said Rs1 million free medical cover under Qaumi Sehat Card will be there for all citizens by end of March, 2022. It will help private medical hospitals to increase services in rural areas, he added.
He said that stipend is increased from Rs12,000 to Rs14,000 per month for Ehsaas and graduate internship stipend will be Rs30,000 per month. He said that 2.6 million scholarships would be provided with allocation of Rs38 billion.
He also recounted that his government inherited historic current and fiscal deficits and this was followed by coronavirus and country’s growth rate was -04 percent and after the country was coming out of the lockdown there was a super cycle of commodity fuelling the inflation in the country.
The prime minister said that 70 percent electricity was being generated through imported fuel. He said that the US faced highest inflation during the last 40 years followed by Canada that faced 30 years’ highest.
He said that during the PTI government, inflation was around eight percent. He said that Pakistan GDP growth was 5.6 percent despite the difficult situation, and the country was recipient of highest remittance of $31 billion and exports were also the highest, while the exports had not grown during the PML-N tenure. He said that Pakistan’s tax collection was more than Rs6000 billion and four major crops’ production was highest because the farmers received additional Rs1.1 trillion. He said that the LSM growth was 7.4 percent and big companies have earned huge profits. Credit disbursement was highest and the construction sector received investment of Rs1500 billion.
“I have to speak to you because the situation is changing very swiftly across the world. First, I wanted to start with the foreign policy and recently, I visited China and Russia. It was my desire to have an independent foreign policy for the benefit of the country,” he said, adding he was always against supporting the US in war against terror because it caused $50 billion d economic loss besides the loss of 80,000 lives, and the most shameful thing was that there were over 400 drone attacks. More than 400 drone attacks were done during the democratic governments of Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), he said.
He said that the country was unable to adopt an independent foreign policy because ‘the leaders’ have stashed money in foreign bank accounts.
He said that the people must not cast vote for the party whose leaders had banks accounts abroad. He said that Russian money was being frozen by the Western capitals.
We have to import 20 lac tons’ wheat and would also to import gas, he said.
The Prime Minister that the PECA law was made in 2016 and the present government wanted to amend it. He said that the government was not afraid of criticism but this law was being brought to deal with the bad things happening in the society. He said 94,000 cases are with the FIA, mostly for targeting household women and only a few cases have been decided and even the prime minister was not being spared and in fake news even the prime minister was not getting justice. He said the same journalist who had written about the corruption of Nawaz Sharif was put behind bars for three days by the former PM Nawaz and was also beaten up.
A media house claimed that Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital money was being diverted to the PTI, he said. He said that in the name of freedom of journalists, a mafia was blackmailing the people; whereas, the true journalists would be happy for this kind of action against fake news.
The PM also made comparison of his government with the four tenures of PPP governments from 1971 onwards and of three tenures of the PML-N governments, and stated that inflation during the present government was relatively less than the inflation during the tenures of those previous governments.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022