Miftah’s weak defence

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Given the decrease in the prices of petroleum products in the international market, everybody at home was also expecting that these will be reflected in the domestic prices.

However, the raise of Rs 6.72 in the price of petrol on Monday night surprised and annoyed everyone including the top leadership of coalition government especially PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari.

At a news conference on Saturday, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, who in fact has done a tremendous work as regards putting the economy back on track-the reflection of which is visible in the upward trend of rupee, presented a very weak defence in support of increasing the prices of petrol.

Whilst alluding to the mechanism pursued by OGRA, he said the prices of petrol in Pakistan are still lower than India and Bangladesh.

A common man is fed up hearing such explanations. In fact when the prices of petroleum products were increasing in the international market and the government was reluctant to pass on the burden, everybody including economic experts and other segments of the society were calling for an increase in prices as it is understandable the country cannot afford huge subsidy on the petroleum products which are largely imported as the share of local production is very negligible.

But at present, when the prices are coming down and the rupee is also on the path of stabilization, the benefit must be extended to the masses.

It is really unfortunate that examples of other countries are given without realizing the per capita income of those countries.

The per capita income of both India and Bangladesh is higher than that of ours. Then it must be realized that bringing the prices of petroleum products down will also help the government arrest inflation.

At present the prices of essential commodities have gone beyond the reach of the common man.

We understand the government has to implement the commitments made with the IMF to secure release of the next tranche but if it increases the PDL, as per the demand of the international lender, the ensuing wave of inflation will then be unmanageable.

High petroleum prices are also affecting the rural economy. As the government has almost secured oil facility from a friendly country on deferred payment and oil prices are also coming down, we will suggest it to pass on the impact to the people to lessen their woes.

 

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