Prime Minister (PM) Shehbaz Sharif said that the government would include a Rs28 billion package in the upcoming budget to provide relief to the masses. He was addressing the nation yesterday (May 27).
PM Shehbaz said that aside from the relief package, the government would immediately provide Rs2,000 for around 85 million people to help them fight the effects of inflation.
“This is aside from the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) monetary assistance they are already getting. This relief package will be included in the next fiscal budget,” the premier said.
The premier added that he has directed the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) to provide 10kg of wheat to people for Rs400.
‘It was you who signed tough deals with IMF, not us’
Criticising ex-PM Imran Khan and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, PM Shehbaz said it was Khan who struck a deal with the IMF, not the current government.
“We did not agree to the strict conditions laid forth by the IMF; you burdened the masses with heavy inflation, not us; you buried the country under heavy debts, not us; international institutions said that corruption increased during your tenure, not ours; electricity load shedding was brought back during your tenure and you are responsible for the economy’s suffering.”
If Imran Khan thinks his “ego” is bigger than the state, then it is his misconception
PM Shehbaz said if Imran Khan thinks his “ego” is bigger than the state, then it is his misconception as Pakistan will function in line with the Constitution and not upon following the direction of one person.
Without naming Imran Khan or the PTI directly, he said one man had fabricated an international conspiracy on the basis of foreign correspondence, even though the National Security Committee (NSC) and Pakistan’s ambassador to the US had repeatedly refuted such claims.
“For his personal political gain, he is harming Pakistan’s diplomatic relations. Pakistan will be governed by the constitution, not one man’s whims,” the PM asserted.
“Due to the faulty policies of the previous government, our friendly countries are upset. We will restore fraternal relations with them,” he said, adding Pakistan wanted peace in South Asia and urged India to withdraw its Aug 5, 2019 decision on Kashmir and then sit with Pakistan for dialogue to resolve all issues.
Khan has repeatedly blamed the US for backing the no-confidence motion that leads to his ousting and has refused to accept the newly-elected government.
Shehbaz added that Khan claimed that the US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu had threatened Pakistan’s ambassador for removing his government.
“This person, when Pakistan was progressing under prime minister Nawaz Sharif, staged dharnas. At that time, Chinese President Xi Jinping had to come to Pakistan, but due to [Khan’s] arrogance, the agreement that was scheduled to take place was delayed.”
The prime minister said that taking up the challenge of coming into power was not easy as the country’s situation was gloomy, and the nation was plagued with hatred during the previous government’s tenure.
‘PTI govt announced petroleum subsidy for political gains’
Explaining the reason for the increase in petroleum prices, Shehbaz said,” From oil-producing countries to developed countries, everyone was gripped with economic turmoil. But for political gains, the previous government announced a petrol subsidy for which there was no room in the national exchequer,” the premier said.
Govt to provide targeted subsidies to 14 million families, says Miftah Ismail
Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said that the government would provide targeted subsidies to 14 million deserving families as announced by PM Shehbaz Sharif in his address to the nation.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Miftah shared the criteria for availing of the ‘Sasta Petrol, Sasta Diesel’ relief package.
“Women, whose household income was less than Rs40,000 per month, could text their Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) numbers on 786 or call that number to receive Rs2,000”, said Miftah.
“We cannot provide complete relief as we do not have the resources but we will do all we can to dress the wounds [of poor people].”
Miftah further added: “7.3 million beneficiaries of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) are already getting Rs2000, and the government is planning to add 7 million more people to the database who would receive Rs2,000 in terms of fuel subsidy.”
Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar tweeted, “The decision to go to IMF should be taken by a government with a fresh mandate.”
Agreeing with Khokhar, Miftah said, “He is right, the new government will strike a new deal with the IMF after taking a fresh mandate next year, but this is a coalition government and our priority is to steer the country out of economic crisis and maintain an economic stability.”
“Therefore, we are continuing with the previous IMF programme, which was finalised by the PTI government,” he said.
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