Dar takes on his predecessor over PDL comment

Published October 4, 2022
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar speaks to Hamid Mir in an interview on Geo News. — screengrab
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar speaks to Hamid Mir in an interview on Geo News. — screengrab

KARACHI: Finance Minis­ter Ishaq Dar came out swinging against his predecessor Miftah Ismail on Monday for the latter’s disapproving comment on the petroleum development levy (PDL) a day ago.

In an interview on Geo News, Mr Dar advised Mr Ismail not to wor­­ry about the Interna­tional Monetary Fund (IMF).

“Maybe Miftah sahab was comfortable (in burdening the public). But I’ve been dealing with the IMF for 25 years. I’m the only humble person who’s completed an IMF programme. Miftah sahab or anyone else sho­uldn’t worry… it’s betw­e­en me and the IMF,” he said.

The federal government collects the PDL on the sale of petroleum products to shore up its non-tax revenue. It was charging the levy in excess of Rs37 on every litre of petrol and Rs7.50 on every litre of diesel until the end of Septem­ber. The government had previously assured the IMF that it’d increase the levy to Rs50 on both petrol and diesel to collect about Rs855 billion in 2022-23.

Tells him it’s between him and IMF, asks him not to go public

But to reduce the prices of all petroleum products by five per cent for the first half of October, Mr Dar decided to take a hit on the government’s non-tax revenue. He cut the PDL on petrol by Rs5 per litre to Rs32.42 while increasing it by Rs5 per litre on diesel to Rs12.58.

Mr Dar said Mr Ismail should simply call him to seek clarity instead of making public statements. “He should’ve called me. I would’ve told him that’s Solution No 1, that’s Solution No 2 and that’s Solution No 3,” he advised Mr Ismail, a PhD economics from the University of Pennsylvania, in a patronising tone.

“Don’t we have a heart? Must we keep on burdening the 220 million people with taxes?” he said.

Mr Ismail’s assertion that the change in the levy’s amount became effective without the IMF’s nod also ruffled the feathers of the opposition. He and Senator Shaukat Tarin of the PTI had an exchange of harsh tweets on Sunday as the opposition leader accused Mr Ismail of “doublespeak” on sticking to the IMF’s demands.

In a separate ceremony on Monday, Mr Ismail delivered a pro-poor speech to a group of corporate executives while steering clear of the topic of PDL. He didn’t take questions from the press.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2022

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