Fuel would have been much more expensive under PTI's deal with IMF: Miftah

Published May 4, 2022
Finance Minister Miftah Ismail addresses a press conference in Karachi on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV
Finance Minister Miftah Ismail addresses a press conference in Karachi on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail on Wednesday said that the prices of diesel and petrol would have been significantly higher under the agreement the PTI regime made with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Speaking to the media in Karachi, the minister came down hard on the PTI regime for what he said was its incompetence in addressing the country's economic challenges.

"They told the IMF that they would not incur a loss (offer subsidies) on diesel — right now you are incurring a loss of Rs70 per litre — but they had promised the IMF that they would not incur a loss and would instead impose a Rs30 levy and 17 per cent sales tax, which means that, according to the agreement made with the PTI, diesel should be Rs150 more expensive. What is Rs145 right now should be Rs295," Ismail said.

He alleged the previous government did not tell the people about these agreements, adding that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif "was and is resisting" these pacts.

"They had vowed to eliminate the loss of Rs30 in petrol prices, place a levy of Rs30 and a sales tax of 17pc, increasing [the price] by approximately Rs90. This also Shehbaz Sharif has resisted and will continue to do so."

The minister claimed that the previous government spoke in "two tongues", making different promises here and different promises abroad.

'Govt has reduced sugar, wheat prices'

Ismail said that ever since PM Shehbaz had assumed office, the government was primarily focusing on reducing the prices of essential commodities. He claimed that the PTI government had made agreements that were difficult to fulfil.

"One the one hand, Imran sahab made agreements with the IMF [...] despite this, by the grace of God, sugar is available at cheap rates for the first time since 2019," he said, adding that sugar was available for Rs70-75 even though the dollar [rate] was at Rs180-190.

He also asked if it was a coincidence that sugar prices had reduced ever since Imran Khan was ousted.

He added that the Utility Stores Corporation was selling sugar at a further reduced price. In the same way, a 20kg bag of flour was available for Rs800 while a 10kg bag was selling for Rs400, down from Rs1,100 and Rs550, respectively, he said.

"The credit for this also goes to Shehbaz Sharif and this government," he said.

Talking about ghee prices, the minister said that it was currently available at utility stores for Rs260 per kilogramme. He claimed that former prime minister Imran Khan left behind record inflation which was caused by record deficits and debts.

He said that the previous government used to say that Miftah Ismail's business had soared during their tenure, using it as proof of their performance.

The minister said that the real example the government should have given was of Farah Khan, a close friend of Imran's wife Bushra Bibi, who is being investigated by the anti-graft watchdog on allegations of accumulating illegal assets beyond known sources of income and money laundering.

"Look at how she progressed. But I think her business has suffered because she left Pakistan for Dubai," he said, pointing out that the former accountability czar, Shahzad Akbar, had also left the country.

"When Imran Khan came into power, we stuck around and served jail sentences. So why are Imran Khan's people leaving? If you want to make a Riyasat-i-Madina, then do it from here and not from Dubai."

He said that the former premier would have answer for why transfers and postings were done at "Farah's directives" as well as why "cases were made and wrapped up on Akbar's orders".

Ismail called on Imran to answer for the "inflation and the corruption he had left behind".

'Loadshedding ended during Eid"

The minister also took the former government to task over the power issues in the country. "Khan sahab, tell us how many power plants you set up? Is it not true that plants producing 7,500MW of electricity were closed due to lack of furnace oil or gas?"

He alleged that plants producing 2,000MW were closed as the previous government did not bother to maintain them. Ismail went on to say that PM Shehbaz and Khurram Dastgir Khan, the federal minister for power, had "ended loadshedding" during the Eid holidays.

The minister said that Imran had left behind loadshedding in a country where former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had set up power plants all over. "We had the ability to produce power [but] plants were closed due to their incompetence which caused loadshedding."

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