ISLAMABAD    -   Finance Minis­ter Miftah Ismail on Wednesday said that inflation would slow down from next month, which has recently touched multi-decade level of 27.3 percent in August due to the gov­ernment’s economic decisions. “The nation would have to bear the higher rates for one more month”, he said while addressing a press confer­ence. He informed that inflation, which had recently increased to record high, would slow down from next month. Price of electricity would also reduce due to the decline in prices of furnace oil. He said that prices of onions and to­matoes have increased due to shortage after the recent floods. However, pric­es are now started declining after the government’s decision to import two commodities from Iran and Afghani­stan. There would be no need to im­port onions and tomatoes from India if the market gets stable after import­ing commodities from Afghanistan and Iran, he added.

The Finance Minister said that dollar value has appreciated after the recent floods as it affected the major crops in provinces. The government would now have to import cotton bales worth of $1 to $2 billion as local production has de­stroyed due to the floods. Meanwhile, other crops have also damaged. The country is expecting to face a loss of $10 to $12 billion due to the floods, which has depreciated the local currency.

“We do not know the exact num­ber of loss due to the floods as of now”. The damage assessment of the floods had not finalized yet. The Economic Af­fairs Division is working with the World Bank and Asian Development Banks for accurate assessment of losses in recent floods. He further said that the govern­ment was in contact with the Interna­tional Monetary Fund (IMF) with re­spect to the devastation caused by the recent floods.

Miftah Ismail has once again criticized the PTI for breaching the loan agree­ment with the IMF. He informed that the previous government had announced tax amnesty scheme for industrialists, subsidy on electricity and petroleum products in February this year, which re­sulted in suspension in IMF programme. The government had provided massive subsidy of Rs120 billion on oil products in April 2022, which was three times higher than expenditures of civil gov­ernment. The PTI government had left the country’s economy on the verge of default. However, the incumbent gov­ernment led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had saved the economy from de­fault, he added.

The Finance Minister said that prices of electricity and oil products were the result of unwise policies of the previ­ous government of Pakistan. He further said that previous government did not work on the renewable energy includ­ing the solar energy. “Had he worked on the installation of solar energy, the rates of the electricity would be much lower now”, he said adding that if the electric­ity loadshedding is reduced to zero, the prices would further increase which the government might not afford.

To a question, the minister maintained that the prices of petroleum products were directly linked to the international market, therefore; he was unable to pre­dict the future prices.

Replying to a question with respect to trade with India, the minister informed that the All Pakistan Textile Mills Asso­ciation (APTMA) was asking the feder­al government to allow import of cotton from India but the minister said it the government had not taken any decision in this regard. Earlier, addressing a sem­inar, the Finance Minister said that Pa­kistan would hold talks with the IMF on floods and other issues. He said that the IMF was aware of the flood destruction in Pakistan and it would not object to cash handouts of Rs25,000 per family to flood survivors. “Around Rs70 billion have been given to the flood victims, while the IMF will be discussed this evening.” Dam­ages from the floods had not been esti­mated accurately so far and the govern­ment will open negotiation with the IMF after the floodwater recedes and the true extent of the destruction is understood.

Miftah said that the government had to reverse a ban on the import of non-es­sential luxury items due to demand from the IMF and other world bodies.