• Says petroleum products in Pakistan still cheapest among oil importing countries in region
• Launches Rs5.3bn hospital project in Attock
ATTOCK: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the government is fully cognisant of the impact of inflation on the poor as prices of commodities are rising across the world due to the pandemic and taking steps such as the recently announced Rs120 billion package to provide some relief to the masses.
While addressing a ceremony after performing the groundbreaking of a 200-bed mother and child hospital in Attock on Friday, the prime minister said his government’s priority was to uplift the people and those provinces that lagged behind in development.
Referring to the escalating prices of petroleum products, the prime minister said the products were still not as costly in Pakistan as they were in other oil-importing countries in the region. In the aftermath of lockdowns, there were supply shortages of oil, he said, adding that the commodity’s prices were low in the beginning when economies began to restart gradually but the prices doubled later.
He said a sharp increase in global petroleum prices from $45 to $85 badly affected countries like Pakistan that relied heavily on import of petrol. He explained that petrol was Rs250 per litre in India, whereas it was Rs200 per litre in Bangladesh. “In Pakistan it now costs Rs146, still the lowest in the region,” he said. “Petrol is still cheaper in Pakistan than it is in other oil-importing countries in the region,” he reiterated.
While talking about soaring prices of sugar, Mr Khan explained the closure of sugarcane crushing by three sugar mills in Sindh and subsequent hoarding was the reason behind the current spike in sugar prices. He said the sugar mills had attained stay orders against the fine imposed by the Competition Commission of Pakistan while another stay order was against the Federal Board of Revenue in line with its action on tax evasion and the ‘off-the-books’ activity of sugar mills.
He asked the law minister to pursue the cases on an urgent basis to provide relief to public.
The prime minister said that all households of Punjab would get health insurance of Rs700,000 to Rs1million for their medical treatment by March 2022. He termed the health card a proper system where the private sector would also be encouraged to expand the network of healthcare facilities by establishing hospitals in rural areas.
The prime minister mentioned that for the first time, the country was witnessing an era of long-term planning along with the boom in industrial sector, exports and foreign remittances. However, he believed the biggest success of his government on the completion of its five-year term would be bringing about a positive change in the lives of common man.
He regretted that Pakistan in the past 30 years incurred a huge loss to the national exchequer when the country was ruled by two political families.
On the occasion, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar said the hospital in Attock would provide quality healthcare services to two million residents, particularly women, of the district and its suburbs. He said the provincial government would complete the 200-bed hospital, equipped with modern facilities, within two years at a total cost of Rs5.3billion.
The federal government had already released Rs2.66 billion to Punjab for the project.
He said the establishment of 21 universities in the province was also under consideration.
Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid said the mother and child hospitals would help women get timely medical advice and treatment.
Later, Attock district leadership of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf called on the prime minister. CM Buzdar, Minister Dr Rashid, National Assembly member Tahir Sadiq, provincial ministers Syed Yawar Bukhari and Malik Mohammad Anwar, Punjab Assembly member Malik Jamshed Altaf and PTI’s Attock chapter president Qazi Ahmed Akbar and other officer-bearers of the party were also present.
Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2021