'Takleef package': Opposition slams PM Imran for petrol price hike two days after announcing relief measures
The opposition slammed Prime Minister Imran Khan and the PTI government on Friday for increasing the prices of petroleum products two days after the premier's announcement of the "biggest welfare package in Pakistan's history", saying the government could only give misery to the people.
In a notification issued late on Thursday night, the government raised petroleum prices by up to Rs8.14 per litre with immediate effect.
According to the notification, the ex-depot price of petrol was fixed at Rs145.82 per litre, showing an increase of Rs8.03. The ex-depot price of high-speed diesel was fixed at Rs142.62 per litre, up Rs8.14.
The government had earlier decided to keep the prices unchanged in "public interest".
Reacting to the price hike, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said the incumbent government had "surpassed all limits of incompetency, inefficiency and corruption".
Noting that it would lead to a rise in inflation, Shehbaz said it had become difficult for people to live.
"The government is about to increase inflation by raising the petroleum levy on the orders of IMF which is cruel. The government has also given in to the IMF's conditions for increasing electricity tariff. The government has given the public an 'inflation package'. The nation is asking: these are the good days they (PTI government) have brought?"
The PML-N president also compared the country's situation to other regional states, saying that taxes on petroleum products were reduced in India while Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had lower prices for diesel.
The people were now praying to get rid of the PTI government, he claimed.
"Government officers are being changed because of incompetence but Imran Khan is [still] sitting on his seat after the biggest incompetence and corruption," Shehbaz said, adding that it had been proved that the incumbent government could "only give takleef (trouble) to people instead of relief".
The government had brought people to the point of ration cards in three years, he said, claiming that Prime Minister Imran had become the "killer of people's joys".
The price of cooking oil had also gone up by 130 per cent in three years, the PML-N president said. "A new storm of inflation has arrived with the announcement of relief package," he said.
In a tweet later in the day, Shehbaz said: "Yet another petrol bomb exploded on the masses in the dead of night. This is IK's way of providing 'relief' after giving a long sermon yesterday. Unfortunately, every day dawns with horrible news for the people. This incompetent/corrupt PTI govt & Pakistan can't go together!"
PPP Vice President Sherry Rehman also noted that the increase in petrol prices came two days after the announcement of the relief package.
"Days after announcing a 'relief package', PTI govt drops another petrol bomb by hiking petrol prices by a whopping Rs8.14/L. Petrol prices now stand at a record Rs145.8/L. First time in Pakistan’s history that prices of all the petroleum products are above Rs110/L. #NayaPakistan," she tweeted.
The PPP demanded an immediate reduction in the prices of petroleum products.
PPP information secretary Shazia Marri warned that if the government did not decrease prices, there would be such a reaction that the "government will not be able to survive".
She called on the people to be prepared as the PPP would soon announce plans for protest. "Imran Khan gave people takleef instead of relief. The time for accountability has arrived," she said in a statement posted on Twitter.
"Imran Khan is taking anti-people steps to fulfil IMF's agenda ... Imran Khan, who used to associate rising petrol prices with the thievery of the rulers, tell us, is the recent increase an acknowledgement of your thievery?" she questioned.
Quipping that the premier's relief package was instead a 'takleef package', PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said the announcement on Wednesday was a "lie, fraud and deceit".
The price of sugar at Rs150 per kilo and petrol at Rs146 per litre after the relief package was akin to making a "mockery of the public", she said.
"The public knows your relief package is a relief only for your ATMs, mafia and cartels and a trouble for them," she said, adding, "You (Prime Minister Imran) cannot give any relief to the public. For God's sake, give the public your resignation."
Cycling to parliament
Meanwhile, PPP Senator Bahramand Khan Tangi chose to protest the increase in petrol prices by cycling to parliament from Parliament Lodges.
"This selected and puppet prime minister has once again, in the darkness of the night, dropped a bomb of inflation and petrol on the public. I believe that this is a joke with the people and I appeal to the public of the entire country to come out."
Tangi said that despite being a parliamentarian, he no longer had the "power to purchase petrol".
Will have to increase price: PM
While announcing the welfare package on Wednesday, Prime Minister Imran had acknowledged that inflation was a major problem in the country, saying the media and the opposition had the right to criticise the government.
But he said the media "needs to balance and think whether inflation is rising because of our government or due to rise in prices in the international market".
The prime minister noted that oil prices had risen by 100pc in the last 3-4 months internationally, while they had increased 33pc in Pakistan.
"When you say petrol is expensive, it is the cheapest in Pakistan, but we will have to increase the price because otherwise our deficit will increase and we will be further burdened by debt," he added.
Additional reporting by Nadir Guramani in Islamabad.