Fuel price hike was necessary to avoid bankruptcy, says Pak PM Shehbaz

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Friday that his government’s decision to raise fuel prices was necessary to prevent the country from facing bankruptcy.

Pakistan raised the prices of petroleum products by Rs 30 per liter on Thursday. Following the hike, the price of gasoline is now at Rs 179.85, diesel at Rs 174.15, kerosene at Rs 155.95 and light diesel at Rs 148.41.

In his first address to the nation after coming to power last month, Shehbaz spoke mostly about the domestic problem facing the government.

Its main focus was the relief program for vulnerable groups after the government raised oil prices to secure an aid package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The prime minister said the move to raise fuel prices was necessary to prevent Pakistan from facing bankruptcy.

Shehbaz said the decision to raise oil prices was difficult. We have, with a heavy heart, raised oil prices; we have to make the decision in a difficult economic situation. This is due to the incredible rise in oil prices on the world market, he said.

The previous government had announced a subsidy that could not be covered by the Treasury. We made the decision preferring the country to our own interest, he said.

To mitigate the impact of rising oil prices, he announced a relief package of Rs 28 billion per month to provide Rs 2,000 per month to around 14 million families.

These families comprise nearly 80 million individuals, or a third of the country’s total population, he said.

Shhebaz also blamed the previous government for the current rise in oil, as he pledged to the IMF for the rise.

You made a deal with the IMF, not us; you agreed to their harsh terms, not us; you burden the people with inflation, not us; you have pushed the country into an economic pond, not us, he said.

He also announced the launch of consultations with all political parties to agree on a Charter of the economy, so that no government in the future can change the economic direction of the country.

Justifying the vote of no confidence against former Prime Minister Imran Khan, Shehbaz said the previous government destroyed the country. We changed a corrupt government at the request of the people, he said.

Shehbaz came to power last month when he formed a coalition government after Khan was ousted in a vote of no confidence.

The new government faced enormous economic and political challenges, but it began to make tough decisions, beginning with the rise in oil prices, to tackle these issues.

In his address, Shehbaz briefly touched on the issue of ties with India.

For a lasting peace in South Asia, it is India’s duty to reverse the actions of August 5, 2019 in Kashmir, so that we can make solid progress in resolving all issues including Jammu and Kashmir, through peaceful means, he said.

Tensions between India and Pakistan have risen since New Delhi repealed Article 370 of the Constitution to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5, 2019. India’s move has sparked strong reactions from Pakistan, which downgraded diplomatic relations and expelled the Indian envoy.

India has told the international community categorically that the removal of Section 370 is its internal affair. India has repeatedly told Pakistan that Jammu and Kashmir “was, is and will forever remain” an integral part of the country. He also advised Pakistan to accept reality and stop all anti-Indian propaganda.

India has also told Pakistan that it wants normal neighborly relations with Islamabad in an environment free from terror, hostility and violence.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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