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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal on Thursday said that the government had no option but to increase the oil prices due to the unprecedented increase in international prices of crude oil while adding that the government had also withdrawn all the taxes and levies on the petroleum products.

Addressing a press conference here, he said the country’s current economic situation was due to the mismanagement of the previous government.

The minister explained that the economy of any country grows with the development activities, but unfortunately for the last four years, the country’s development budget kept on decreasing instead of increasing.

“In 2018, when we left the government, Rs1,000 billion was allocated to both the defence and the PSDP.”

“Today when after four years, I take over the charge, the allocation was Rs900 billion, but only Rs550 billion could be spent during the outgoing year due to fiscal constraints,” he added.

He said the Finance Division categorically declined to issue further releases to the PSDP since the end of the third quarter of the outgoing fiscal year.

The minister informed that Imran Khan Government had agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that all subsidies on the petroleum products would be withdrawn and further taxes would be charged on the products.

He also blamed the previous government for rapidly depleting the country’s foreign exchange reserves.

He said the coalition government was well aware of the worse situation, but “we had no choice but to take the charge of the government only to save the country’s future.”

He said Pakistan needed stability and the coalition government could easily go for the next general election but the country could have collapsed during the interim government.

Therefore, he said the coalition government took the toughest decision to save the country’s future.

He said for the next fiscal year, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) revenue target had been set at around Rs7,000 billion and after paying the provinces’ share, only Rs3,000 billion would be left with the federal government.

The federal government had liabilities of over Rs6,000 to 7,000 billion so in order to meet all these expenditures, the federal government would have to take further loans.

In four years, he said the annual debt service was Rs1,500 billion but now it had increased to Rs4,000 billion.

He said as per the vision of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the country badly needed the charter of economy to put the country on the path of stability and growth.

He said under the charter of economy, all political parties should sit together and agree to continue the policies for at least 10 years irrespective of whichever political party is in the government.

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan was “destabilizing the country by targeting Pakistan’s key institutions”.

He alleged Imran Khan had used social media and indulged his team in campaigns against the state institutions as planned and aimed at destabilizing the country.

He alleged Imran Khan was deliberately spreading anarchy against the country’s key institutions.

The minister said, “We will not let Imran Khan target the nation and the country’s institutions through his negative politics.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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