ISLAMABAD May 27, (APP): Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Friday announced massive saving of Rs 28 billion on buying of petrol for 14 million poor families to protect them from effects of inflation.
In his address to the nation, he said every family registered with the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) will get a monthly relief of Rs 2000 on petrol buying. About one third of the country’s population or 85 million people will benefit from the financial relief.
He directed the Utility Stores Corporation to provide the 10 kilogramme flour bag for Rs 400.
The Prime Minister said the government took the difficult decision of raising prices of petroleum products to save Pakistan’s economy from a precarious situation and economic default.
Shehbaz Sharif was elected to the office of prime minister by Pakistan Muslim League(N) and the allied parties in April.
The PM said he was given responsibility after people’s demand that parties in opposition should immediately get rid of the previous incapable and corrupt government which sunk the national economy with its disastrous policies.
He thanked PML(N) and allied parties for putting their confidence in him and said support of the allied parties was a matter of strength for him.
The PM said opposition parties responded to the call of the people and removed the previous prime minister through democratic and constitutional means.
For the first time, the government was changed through a constitutional process and open doors which was a win for democracy and the people, he remarked.
Shehbaz said during his three decades of public service, he did not see such a huge damage which was caused by Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) government with its mismanagement and bad governance.
“We accepted the challenge to save Pakistan. It was clear to us that in order to put Pakistan on the right track great hard work was needed.”
He said the previous government left behind innumerable stories of corruption and with their behavior of victimization, anger and incivility, PTI leaders tore apart the social fabric and cultivated “a crop of hate”.
He said the former prime minister for the sake of his nefarious political designs, came up with the story of a false foreign letter.
However, the National Security Committee categorically stated twice that there was no conspiracy behind the ousting of the former prime minister and Pakistan’s ambassador in the United States also rejected the story of conspiracy, he explained.
“But the person was telling lies for his heinous political aims and was damaging Pakistan’s vital national interests.”
He said if any person thought his arrogance was above the constitution and national institutions he was wrong.
“Pakistan will move forward according to the constitution and not according to arrogance of a person.”
He recalled that during the period of Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan was making distinctive progress but then Imran Khan staged the drama of sit ins at a time when the Chinese President Xi Jinping was about to undertake a visit to Pakistan to sign historic agreement of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The prime minister said the CPEC agreement was delayed due to stubbornness and arrogance of an individual.
He said the agreement with IMF was done by the PTI government which agreed to the strict conditions of the financial institution, grinded people under the weight of inflation and bogged them down in difficult economic conditions.
The PTI government crushed the country under massive debt and according to international institutions during the previous government the level of corruption was at the highest, economy was choked and electricity loadsheding resurfaced, he added.
He vowed to work for the welfare of people, make Pakistan prosperous, take difficult decisions to speed up the pace of progress and end the politics of corruption forever.
He said the new government came at a time when inflation was at its highest and economic activities had come to a standstill.
In the last four years, the dollar massively rose against the rupee and went from Rs 115 in 2018 to Rs 189 in 2022 causing inflation and hiking the debt to record levels, he added.
He said the previous government increased the country’s debt by Rs 20,000 billion in four years which was more than the loans taken by Pakistan from 1947 to 2018 and the amount was 80 percent of the total loans taken previously.
During the current year the budget deficit had risen to unprecedented level of Rs 5600 billion which was the highest deficit in the country’s history, he revealed.
He reminded that the last Nawaz Sharif government with its loans generated electricity of 10400 megawatts, laid down a huge network of roads, carried out mass transport and development projects worth billions of rupees and brought down inflation to the lowest level.
Shehbaz said the previous government closed down power projects of 7500 megawatts and acted with
criminal negligence by not arranging fuel for power plants and by not undertaking maintenance of power plants which caused loadshedding.
He said the present government increased prices of petroleum products with a heavy heart to avert a looming economic crisis.
Petrol and diesel prices had touched the sky in the international market and developed and developing countries alike were facing tough economic conditions, he continued.
The PM said the former government just for the sake of its political benefit announced subsidy on petrol prices, for which no financial allocation was made in budget.
Today’s relief package will be covered in the next budget, he told.
He said in the last four years, Pakistan’s interests abroad were damaged and close friends were annoyed.
“We have to rectify the mistakes and we have started the process of restoring relations with the outside world.”
He asked India to revoke the unilateral and illegal steps of August 5, 2019 so that all issues including Kashmir could be resolved through meaningful dialogue.
He said Pakistan was again facing the challenge of terrorism and “we are reviving national action plan in coordination with provinces to tackle the menace”.
Shehbaz said the last government snatched the rights of media and curbed the freedom of expression and punished journalists and its critics.
He pointed that Pakistan was brought down on the international index of freedom of expression and the former PM was included among dictators who snatched rights of media and freedom of expression.
He said his government revoked a controversial media law recently as it was meant to snatch freedom of media.
He assured that the government would not compromise on the life and security of people.
He recalled that as leader of the opposition he proposed a charter of economy which was rejected by the then prime minister with hate.
“I am starting the process of consultation with political parties so that nobody can play with the economy and economic continuity can be ensured.”
He said his cabinet would remain accountable to the people, rights of women and minorities would be protected and his government would continue efforts to bring down inflation, create jobs and put an end to injustice.