Monday, August 8, 2022

Miftah Ismail: ‘Tough decisions inevitable to avoid economic disaster’

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ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Miftah Ismail has asserted that he was being cursed for raising the prices of petroleum products, however tough decisions were imperative to avoid disaster, ARY News reported on Monday.

Addressing a post-budget conference in Islamabad, the finance minister said that they came into power when the country was witnessing major economic problems.

“I have never seen such a situation in Pakistan,” he said, adding that the coalition government had no other option but to take tough decisions. Miftah pointed out that four years ago the circular debt was 503 billion and today it has reached 2500 billion.

He further said that there are many reasons for losses in the power sector. “A few years ago, electricity was generated from coal at Rs5 but now it cost Rs25 per unit,” Miftah noted.

The finance minister also said that the fuel adjustment charges for June will come in September’s bill. “The circular debt of gas sector has also increased and reached Rs1500 billion,” he said, adding that after subsidy the gas was being sold at Rs400 instead of Rs 4,000.

“I have told the prime minister that we have to take tough decisions or we cannot strike a deal with International Monetary Fund (IMF). The prime minister is unhappy with increasing the prices of petroleum products. Whenever I send a summary in this regard, the ministers curse me,” he added..

Miftah claimed that the government was still giving Rs19 subsidy on petrol and Rs53 subsidy on diesel, adding that Sri Lanka also gave subsidies to its public and it, eventually, defaulted.  “Today, Sri Lanka is purchasing expensive oil and they do not have funds to buy medicines for their people,” he added.

The federal minister said that whoever becomes the Prime Minister has to approach friendly countries. “How long will we live on the mercy of our friends?” he lamented, adding: “Pakistan is dearest to us, we all have to fix it together”.

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