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Federal Minister for Finance Miftah Ismail said that the government would provide relief to the masses on petroleum products if prices continued to decline in the international market.

“If the trend (in oil price decline) persists, relief will be passed on to the masses,” said Miftah in an interview with the state broadcaster on Wednesday night.

Rising oil prices have become a headache for the cash-strapped South Asian economy, which battles a growing import bill that leads to a current account deficit that puts pressure on the local currency.

However, amid reports of recession denting demand, oil prices have dropped from $120 per barrel in June and are presently hovering around $100 per barrel.

Just days ago, Citigroup said crude could collapse to $65 by the end of this year, and drop further to $45 by end-2023 amid concerns of demand-crippling recession.

Moreover, oil prices regained a footing on Thursday from steep falls in the previous two sessions, as investors returned their focus to tight supplies even as fears persisted over the demand outlook amid risks of a global recession.

Brent crude futures rose 67 cents, or 0.7%, to $101.36 a barrel after tumbling more than $2 to a session low of $98.50 earlier. WTI crude futures climbed 59 cents, or 0.6%, to $99.12 a barrel.

Meanwhile, Miftah said that the incumbent government's first priority was to save the country from default, and it took difficult decisions in this regard.

The federal minister said that his government aims to improve the tax-to-GDP ratio, which was on decline for the last three years.

Talking about the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the finance minister reiterated that the programme will be revived in a few days. “All major hurdles pertaining to the programme revival were removed on the day the budget was passed from the assembly,” he said.

Last month, the National Assembly passed Federal Budget, 2022-23 by incorporating significant amendments to the Finance Bill, 2022 on the dictation of the IMF.

The passage of the budget for the fiscal year 2022-2023 brings the government one step closer to the revival of the stalled IMF programme.

“We are steadily achieving milestones, I think we will hear good news in this regard in the coming days,” he said.

Earlier, this week, Miftah dismissed reports claiming that the IMF programme has been further delayed.

“I have been reading with some amusement all the tweets and stories about IMF program being postponed or delayed due to some anti-corruption law. There is no truth to it. The IMF program is on track," tweeted Miftah.

Moreover, last week, Pakistan received the IMF Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP), following meetings between the two sides.

Experts believe that the revival of the IMF programme is crucial for Pakistan's economy, in order to meet its funding needs.

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