ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif vowed that the coalition government was determined to take tough decisions to steer the country out of current economic crisis.

Expressing his strong optimism, the prime minister, while talking to media persons after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, said it was his strong conviction that good times were in store for the country.

About the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement, the prime minister first openly accused the previous PTI’s government of violating agreement with the IMF with whom they agreed to increase petroleum prices and impose new taxes, but they had capped the petroleum prices by backtracking on the agreement.

He said that due to such ploys by the previous government, the country was facing difficulty with the IMF.

Shehbaz Sharif also mentioned that the global economic situation was complicated as the prices of petrol and grains were spiralling.

He claimed that the coalition government inherited severe economic crises left behind by the previous government, but with hard work and dedication, the coalition government would steer the country out of the current challenges.

In an open reference to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, Shehbaz Sharif said that it had left behind a backlog of worst and imprudent economic policies, tainted with poor performance.

Criticising his predecessors, he said the previous government reduced petroleum prices at the time of their exit from power corridors which smack of conspiracy and based upon ill-will.

“If they had any concerns and felt pain for the people, they ought to leave behind a precedent of serving the masses by providing any relief in their three and half years rule,” the prime minister regretted. He said that these were hard times, and they had taken difficult and bold decisions and hinted if required in future, they would take such steps for the economic turnaround.

“We will not budge from taking necessary steps to set the country’s economy on the right track with hard work and nation’s prayers,” he stressed.

The government had decided to increase prices of petroleum products with a heavy heart, he said, adding, under a decision in the budget, about 70 million people were being provided financial support worth millions of rupees through activation of a helpline.

| Shehbaz says govt to divert burden from the poor and levy tax on rich people

Cabinet defers Rs7.99/unit increase

in basic power tariff

The prime minister further explained that in the budget, they had decided to divert burden from the poor and levy tax upon the wealthy people.

He expressed the confidence that the affluent and wealthy class would pay taxes and offer sacrifice for the country and nation.

Earlier, the federal cabinet meeting, held here yesterday with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the chair, was taken into confidence about the situation of edible oil imports from Indonesia.

Briefing the media about the cabinet decisions, Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reform, Ahsan Iqbal along with Prime Minister’s Advisor on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira reiterated the government’s resolve to turn around the economy of the country and provide relief to the poor segment of the society.

He said the previous government damaged goodwill of the country by non-implementing the IMF agreement. He said the incumbent government has preferred the economy of the country over politics. He said the price increase of petroleum products was inevitable to save the country from economic crisis. He said the world is facing supply chain disruptions and the government is keeping an eye on it.

The minister expressed hope that foreign investors will come to Pakistan and the country will soon be on track of progress. Ahsan Iqbal said that the prime minister has directed to ensure supply of urea to the farmers. He informed the media persons that the prime minister has also asked the authorities concerned to expedite the procedure of obtaining urea from China. He said that the cabinet has approved the formation of a committee to review the Trade Organisation Act. He said the cabinet also approved the launching of the national and international Ijara Sakuk programme on the recommendation of the Ministry of Finance. He said the cabinet also reviewed the situation of GSP+ status of Pakistan. He said GSP+ benefitted Pakistan to increase its exports.

The cabinet was also taken into confidence about the situation of edible oil imports from Indonesia. Ahsan Iqbal said the matter of FATF was also discussed in the meeting. He said Pakistan has completed all the prerequisites of FATF and soon it will be out of the grey list. He said this will promote the business climate of the country. He said the incumbent government took many steps to bring Pakistan out of the grey list.

Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister’s Advisor on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, Qamar Zaman Kaira said,  Indian brutalities are continuing in Indian Illegally-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. He said India will not succeed to suppress the  Kashmiri people’s passion for freedom. He said the budget of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan has been enhanced to bring these areas at par with other areas of Pakistan. He said rich people of the country will be taxed to provide relief to the poor.

The federal cabinet also deferred Rs7.99 per unit increase in the basic tariff of electricity. The federal cabinet which met in Islamabad under the chair of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif paid tributes to the Pakistan Army and concerned ministries and officials on the FATF affair. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that it was due to the joint efforts of all institutions that the country was able to come out of the grey list of the international financial watchdog. The premier also directed all the ministers to attend parliament sessions regularly. The cabinet approved reducing the price of Remdesivir injection used to treat Covid-19 disease.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari underlined that they had to make important decisions jointly so that public miseries could be mitigated. Finance Minister Miftah Ismail briefed the cabinet on the economic situation. He replied to questions regarding talks with IMF, POL prices in the international market, and taxes. Ismail said that the increase in petrol prices had nothing to do with the IMF, adding that the hike was due to rising global inflation.

The cabinet was supposed to deliberate on the endorsement of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) decisions but it dropped the agenda regarding endorsement of the ECC’s June 13 decisions. The ECC’s June 13 decisions also contained a proposal of increasing the basic tariff of electricity. The cabinet also deferred the decision to establish anti-money laundering police stations in different cities of Pakistan.