Miftah Ismail again says no hike in petroleum prices, but hints at rise in interest rate

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KARACHI: Finance Minister Miftah Ismail has once again said the government doesn’t plan to increase the prices of petroleum products. However, the minister hinted at an increase in the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) interest rate. Speaking during a media talk at the Karachi airport on Monday, Miftah said that former finance minister Shaukat Tarin had promised the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the then government will not offer subsidies on petroleum products, instead, it will impose Rs30 tax per litre. He said this promise was made over a written agreement. Miftah said that the subsidy on fuel has to be abolished and tax of Rs30 per litre has to be levied as per the promise made by Imran Khan and Tarin. “We have to pay the price of the promises made by the former government,” he lamented, adding that the government will have to increase the price of diesel by Rs150 following the formula of Imran and Tarin. Referring to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s observation that the nation cannot bear the burden of a hike in oil prices, Miftah said that he would try to convince the IMF that the government can’t raise oil prices immediately as the nation cannot afford it and should be given some time. He said that the government has granting the subsidy and it will continue. Miftah went on to say that he finds Tarin’s statement ridiculous that his government left funds for the subsidy. “I swear that I met the finance secretary two days before taking charge as the finance minister, and the presentation he gave showed a deficit worth Rs13,000 billion,” the finance minister said. He asked the former government to tell him where they had left the money. “They have not left any money, instead they have violated the agreement with IMF,” he added. Continuing his criticism, Miftah said that the PTI-led government showed 6% growth, but the IMF says that Pakistan’s economy is running fast and it should be slowed down.

 

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