Miftah rejects removal of power, fuel subsidies ahead of IMF talks

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Blames PTI for current state of economy

 

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail on Monday ruled out the removal of fuel and power subsidies ahead of the talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Addressing the media, the finance minister also said the country will hear “good news” soon ahead of his departure today to Doha where the incumbent government will start another round of policy-level talks with the monetary fund.

In response to a question regarding the conditions stipulated by the IMF during Shaukat Tarin’s tenure as finance minister, Miftah commented that the incumbent government will refuse to raise the prices of fuel and levy higher taxes on commodities.

“Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Nawaz Sharif have outrightly refused to increase the prices of fuel,” said the finance minister.

Pakistan has committed to the IMF that it will withdraw the energy subsidy. However, the government has not yet increased the prices of petroleum products due to the fear of political backlash.

In order to provide relief to the consumers, the former government announced a relief package on February 28, 2022.

It slashed prices of petrol and high-speed diesel by Rs10 per litre each and said that the prices would be kept unchanged till the next fiscal year’s budget. As a cap has been placed on oil prices, the petroleum levy and general sales tax (GST) have been brought down to zero for petrol and diesel.

During the media talk, the finance minister lambasted the narrative of the ousted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and blamed them for the current state of the economy.

He also blamed former prime minister Imran Khan’s call to protest as a deterrent to the financial watchdog’s ability to hold talks within the country.

However, he stated that he would be in communication with party leaders and would not return without a deal.

 

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