July 7, 2022: Federal Finance and Revenue Minister Miftah Ismail said on Thursday that the declining trend in international food and fuel prices would help drive down commodity prices in Pakistan.
At a press conference here, the minister said the price of crude oil per barrel had fallen to $100 from $123, while that of edible oil and ghee fell from $1,700 to $1,000 a ton.
The government, he added, would pass on the benefit of falling international fuel prices to the people at an opportune time, while edible oil prices are also expected to fall by Rs 100 to Rs 150 per kg to make the raw material available at Rs 350 to Rs 370 per kilogram.
The minister said the government was already supplying flour and sugar through the Utility Stores Corporation at Rs 40 and Rs 70 per kg respectively. Flour prices are expected to fall further, taking into account the downward trend in international wheat prices.
Miftah said the economy was under control because the incumbent government had saved it from collapsing, despite the massive damage done by the previous regime. Currently, most economic indicators have been stable.
He said the government presented a balanced budget in which the rich had to sacrifice and the poor took initiatives. Fiscal measures were expected to lead to progress and growth.
The minister said the previous government had left the highest trade and current account deficits, accompanied by low foreign exchange reserves. However, with $2.4 billion provided by China, the foreign exchange reserve position had improved and was set to increase once the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was finalized. It got better and better, he noted.
Speaking on the energy issues, he said that the Pakistani government of Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has not completed the energy projects initiated by the Pakistani Muslim League and as a result, the people faced tax easing.
The Karot power project, which should have started early this year, has now started, while the Haveli Bahadur Power Plant –II, which had machines installed in 2018, was due to run in 2019, but it has now been implemented by the incumbent government.
He refuted claims of excessive generating capacity, saying there was a shortage of about 7,500 megawatts, including 5,000 megawatts from gas and fuel shortages and 2,500 megawatts from lack of maintenance at the plants.
He said the incumbent government could not get a response to its tender for LNG (liquefied natural gas). It could have been done by the previous regime when prices were low.
He said the current government was generating 5,000 megawatts more electricity than the previous regime, while agreeing to import coal from Afghanistan, South Africa, Indonesia and Australia.
The government is also finalizing agreements to import gas and LNG, he added.
Miftah said another nuclear power plant, with a capacity of 1,100 megawatts, was inaugurated in Karachi, which would help ease the burden. The prime minister had also started work on the solar energy policy to produce alternative energy.
The minister said the government of Punjab itself is providing subsidy to provide free electricity to the poor who consume less than 100 units per month.
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