Politicians, traders reject fuel price cut as insufficient

Updated March 26, 2020

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QWP says Rs3,000 monthly stipend even less than minimum wage. — AFP/File
QWP says Rs3,000 monthly stipend even less than minimum wage. — AFP/File

PESHAWAR: Leaders of political parties have expressed dissatisfaction over the financial package announced by the federal government to cope with the challenge posed by coronavirus and said it should have taken more steps to give maximum relief to the poverty-stricken people.

However, the business community hailed the PM’s financial relief package and demanded to extend the same benefits to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector, which was being affected in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.

Qaumi Watan Party provincial chairman Sikandar Hayat Sherpao on Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction over the package. However, he said that his party did not want to politicise this issue.

The government, he suggested, should have brought down the prices of the petroleum products to Rs60 per litre to provide relief to the people. He said that the current relief was not enough keeping in view the magnitude of the issue.

“The government should have taken the opposition parties into confidence before unveiling the financial package,” he stressed, adding that the announcement of Rs3,000 monthly stipend for the poor families was much lower than the minimum wage i.e. Rs17,500 fixed by the government.

QWP says Rs3,000 monthly stipend even less than minimum wage

The QWP leader said the government should have waived off the utility bills as making the people pay the gas and electricity bills in installments would ultimately add up to their financial burden.

Sikandar Sherpao said that keeping in view the rising number of coronavirus cases in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa the government should provide protective gears to the medical staff and doctors besides taking steps to establish laboratories at least at the divisional level to conduct the tests of the suspected patients.

Similarly, Jamaat-i-Islami provincial chief Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan in a separate statement described the incentive package as total ‘fraud’ and urged the government to bring down the prices of petroleum products to Rs60 per litre and provide one-month free of cost ration to the poor people as per lists of the Benazir Income Support Programme and Ihsas Programme.

The JI leader said that the power consumers who were using up to 300 units were not given any concession.

The business community, however, hailed the PM’s financial relief package and demanded to extend the same to the SMEs sector.

The demand was made by Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Maqsood Anwar Pervaiz while addressing small industrialists and traders through video link here from the chamber’s house.

The SCCI chief said that the small industries and traders had closed down their businesses in the province and were facing immense financial losses amid outbreak of coronavirus pandemic. He demanded of the government to include SMEs in the relief package. He also described the decrease of Rs15 in fuel price as insufficient.

He urged the government and the State Bank of Pakistan to reschedule loans disbursed to different business and commercial institutions besides bringing down the markup rate to a single digit.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2020