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ISLAMABAD: Former finance minister of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Shaukat Tarin Friday said that his party’s government had to approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) due to $20 billion current account deficit and economic destruction left behind by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in 2018.

Speaking at a presser along with former energy minister Hammad Azhar, he said the people such as Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Miftah Ismail, Musadik Malik, and other PML-N fellows should be ashamed of themselves who used to declare that even a single rupee increase in POL prices tantamount to crushing the poor.

“Rs60 increase in petroleum products within a short span of one week is not a petrol bomb rather it’s like throwing a nuclear bomb on the poor masses,” he regretted. When the sixth tranche was being negotiated with the IMF, he added, the then PTI government took a bold stand and plainly refused to increase power tariff by Rs4.95 besides turning down their demand of removing Rs700 billion taxes.

“This continued [talks with the IMF] for seven to eight months and we didn’t accept its [IMF] demand and we did this for the sake of our people. By end February, the then prime minister, Imran Khan, decided to freeze the prices…we decreased the POL prices by Rs10 per litre and cut power tariff by Rs5 per unit,” he added.

He also came down hard on State Minister for Petroleum Musadik Malik for his claim that the cost of subsidy on POL products costs Rs700 to 800 billion worth burden on the national exchequer, saying there is no truth in his claim.

He said that the government had frozen the prices of POL prices for months with a plan to purchase oil from Russia at cheaper rate, for which the then prime minister had already spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin in this regard.

He continued that the then government had planned a targeted subsidy by June, adding Rs14 had been given to refineries to keep a margin on diesel as 60pc diesel and 25pc petrol is produced by local refineries.

“…that Rs14 margin on diesel has gone up to Rs70 which goes in their pocket and the margin on petrol is also above Rs50 which is also eaten by the government. These are the incompetent people and they are frightened,” he maintained.

Shaukat Tarin suggests buying Russian oil, reducing margins of refineries

He said that these were the plans which the PTI government was going to do to give relief to the masses as we were set to get oil Rs40 to 50 per liter cheaper rate, and the Rs60 per increase would not have been needed.

He plainly said that the incumbent regime could not purchase oil from Russia as it could not afford going against the wishes of its American bosses, adding giving relief to his people was always the number priority of Imran Khan but the incumbent regime of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) had a totally different agenda which is to fill their coffers.

“Why this regime didn’t go for a targeted subsidy? They’ve no idea what they should do and this is the reason they’ve increased Rs30 on everything. It’s a conspiracy to weaken the country economically. March results show we’d record GDP growth, record exports, agro growth 4.4pc, best manufacturing, record remittances and record revenues, etc. We did the best at every front,” he added.

Azhar, while speaking on the occasion, said that when POL prices were raised by Rs4 in January, Bilawal and Shehbaz, demanded the resignation of the prime minister, but “now Rs60 increase within a week, then resignation is too small a thing, there should be something else against these people which you will see how this imported regime is sent disgracefully”.

Around March 10 to 15, he added, a meaningful discount was offered to the international market by Russia and the PTI government started negotiations with it, adding Pakistan ambassador to Russia who is still there was given the task and held two meetings with the energy minister on this issue.

“We had also written a letter to the Russian Energy Ministry and I clearly wrote there [...] in April, we will start purchasing the first consignment,” he added.

He said that the imported regime which claims it is penniless but it must keep this in mind that the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) has purchased five cargos in April and five in May at $120.

“What a shame as PSO has money to purchase oil at exorbitant rates and no money for buying oil at cheaper rates from Russia,” he lamented.

Taking a jibe at the adviser to the prime minister on finance, he said that he should know as he has been in office for the last 55 days now that there are no sanctions to purchase oil from Russia.

“When you are busy enjoying foreign trips along with proclaimed offenders, family members and busy in renovating swimming pools of PM House and other extravaganzas, India purchased 34-million-barrel oil from Russia,” he regretted.

“In the last 40 days of this regime, the rupee has weakened by Rs20 against the dollar…hours-long load-shedding in a day has inflicted billions of losses to the economy and businesses in the country,” he lamented.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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