- Will hold press conference to convey new rates applicable on high-income groups
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced on Thursday that the government will impose a tax on high income individuals to prop up tax collection for the cash-starved nation.
“I will hold a press conference to announce the tax and this will be the first time when Pakistan imposes such a levy,” he said while speaking to senators during a televised session.
He did not specify the date and time of the said press conference.
He also stated that Pakistan will be able to revive the $6 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme over the next few days, saying that the global lender has imposed no new conditions.
However, he clarified that the country will still face hard times in the future, and that the revival of the bailout programme “does not mean that Pakistan will transform and prosper overnight.”
The PM stressed the need for the country to strengthen its financial position and attract funding from World Bank and Asian Development Bank for different projects.
“The revival of the IMF programme will help us in this regard,” he said. “We will not make false promises because they dampen investor confidence and prove adverse for the nation’s economy.”
He added that the government was focusing on growth, but all institutions had to work unanimously to achieve it.
Admitting that prices of essential commodities were soaring in the country, PM Shehbaz said although the government had hiked the rates of petrol and diesel, it had also announced a relief package.
“We will introduce further relief for the common citizens,” he said.
He lamented that the previous government reversed all good initiatives introduced by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) from 2013-2018.
PM Shehbaz said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had agreed with the IMF to make oil and gas available to the public at global prices.
“Moreover, PTI also agreed to impose 17% sales tax and raise petroleum development levy to Rs30,” he said. “After this, the previous government violated the agreement by giving subsidy.”
The prime minister highlighted that relief was given without any means of funding it and without seeking the cabinet’s nod.
“PTI did not take advantage of low global oil and gas prices as well and it criticised Qatar LNG agreement,” he said. “Today, the same deal has turned into a lifeline for Pakistan.”
Earlier, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said that the price of Brent crude was on a downtrend in the international market and the government will capitalise on this to provide relief to the inflation-stricken public.
Speaking at a press conference, he said that as soon as the international price of oil recedes below a certain benchmark, the government will purchase cheap fuel for the nation. He added that the recent hike in petrol and diesel prices were necessary to "save the nation from default".
His remarks come as oil prices continued to retreat on Thursday as investors reassessed the risks of recession and the impact of interest rate hikes in major economies on fuel demand. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell $1.4, or 1.3%, to $104.78 a barrel by 0643 GMT. Brent crude futures fell $1.3, or 1.2%, to $110.40.
Miftah said measures taken by the government to prevent default has helped the rupee recover to 207 against the US dollar.