Country is caught in debt trap, PM reveals in first cabinet meeting

ISLAMABAD - The federal cabinet has approved reduction in prices of sugar and flour for provision of relief to people during the holy month of Ramazan.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb along with Minister for Finance Miftah Ismail said this at a joint press conference to brief media men about the decisions taken during the first federal cabinet meeting held here yesterday with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the chair.

The cabinet discussed the economic situation and price hike in the country and was briefed by key economic indicators.

The cabinet approved price reduction of 10-kg flour bag from 550 rupees to Rs400 during Ramadan.

The subsidized flour will be available everywhere in Punjab on an immediate basis, the minister said.

She said that the reduction in sugar price from 80 rupees per kilogram to 70 rupees per kilogram at utility stores during Ramazan was also approved by the cabinet. The cabinet gave directions to ensure provision of sugar and flour across the country.

It was decided that the Punjab government will supply flour to Gilgit-Baltistan. The supply of flour to Azad Kashmir will be a gift from the Punjab government. The cabinet noted that the foremost priority of the coalition government is revival of the economy for which all steps would be taken on war footing.

The cabinet also decided to review the Exit Control List and a cabinet committee under the chairmanship of Law Minister Azam Tarar has been constituted to review the ECL law and will submit its report to the cabinet in three days.

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail told the media that the fiscal deficit remained 1,600 billion rupees per annum on average during the last PML-N government, while the Imran Khan led-government took this figure to around 5,600 billion rupees.

He said total debt of the country from 1947 to 2018 was 25,000 billion rupees, whereas the PTI government added 20,000 billion rupees to these in just three and half years.

Shehbaz says we have to work to control inflation, price hike, corruption despite having limited resources | Marriyum says cabinet approved reduction of price of sugar, flour during Ramazan | PTI govt added Rs20,000b to country’s total debt: Miftah

Regarding power outages in the country, the Finance Minister said power plants with a capacity of 7,500 megawatts of electricity are lying closed due to inaptness and incompetence of the previous government.

Earlier, addressing the first ever cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said he believed that their dedicated and sincere efforts could turn the tide and make the country cope with the challenges successfully.

The PM told the cabinet members to roll up their sleeves to meet the challenges of inflation, unemployment, poverty and load-shedding, for turning the desperation into an opportunity of progress and public relief.

He congratulated the cabinet members coming from different political parties of the ruling coalition, and said the federal cabinet comprised seasoned politicians with vast experience and competence having huge struggles to their credit.

The prime minister said the current government came into being consequent to a no-confidence motion against the former prime minister. The incumbent government is based on a huge coalition which was being applauded as well as criticized.

He expressed the hope that despite representing their own political parties, the coalition members would move on setting aside their personal biases with just one aim to serve the masses.

He also reiterated his resolve for making untiring efforts to come up to the people’s expectation.

“I call this a war cabinet as we are fighting against inflation, unemployment and poverty which we inherited from the previous government. The previous government had badly failed,” he remarked.

The prime minister said though the cabinet formation faced a bit delay, yet if was done consisting of very competent and experienced members.

He said the cabinet members would be briefed about the load-shedding and the factors behind it which would follow the decision making by the cabinet.

He urged the cabinet to pay attention to the issues faced by the federating units particularly Balochistan.

Recounting the challenges, the prime minister said the country was under immense debt burden but it was upon the incumbent government to overcome the challenges despite having limited resources.

“Today, we have to face the challenge collectively and should not evade any sacrifice. We will have to respond to propaganda through facts, which would ultimately bury the lies,” he remarked.

Recalling the immense victimization of all opposition parties during the previous government, the prime minister said corruption was rampant during last three and half years.

Citing the successful journey of development of Germany and Japan, the prime minister said despite being badly hit by the second world war, both the countries bounced back and achieved excellence just on the basis of their struggle.

He also referred to the teachings of Holy Quran, Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as well as Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah advising the followers to put in their best to achieve excellence and change the fate.

Prime Minister Shehbaz told the cabinet members that besides the politicians, the bureaucracy also faced huge pressure from the previous government which wanted them to act as an approver against that time’s opposition.

He said the government machinery including bureaucracy, doctors, engineers and others needed the backing and encouragement by the government to make them perform better.

The cabinet approved the removal of Sanaullah Abbasi as DG FIA and approved the appointment of Muhammad Tahir Rai as new DG FIA.

The cabinet also decided to constitute a commission to investigate smuggling of the fertilizer.



Meanwhile, Radio Pakistan reported that while chairing maiden meeting of the federal cabinet in Islamabad Wednesday, the prime minister stressed it is only through hard work that we can bring improvement in situation and register successes in practical field.

He said the country is caught in debt trap and we have to steer it out from it and save the economy.

Shehbaz Sharif said the cabinet is composed of extremely capable and experienced members, expressing the confidence that they will bring to use their best of abilities  to serve the masses and live up to their expectations.

He said this broad based coalition government will work tirelessly for the welfare of the people and take decisions that serve the interest of the country.

The Prime Minister expressed the firm commitment to address the problems faced by the federating units especially Balochistan province.

Shehbaz Sharif pointed out the corruption was on the rise in the past government. He said the poisonous propaganda will be confronted with facts.

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