PM directs for devising strategy to bring down inflation, food items' prices: Shibli
APP31-06 ISLAMABAD: October 06 – Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz addressing a press conference at PID Media Centre. APP photo by Irshad Sheikh

ISLAMABAD, Oct 6 (APP): Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz Tuesday said Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday instructed his cabinet to formulate a strategy for bringing down inflation and prices of food items with the aim to provide relief to the public.

Addressing a press conference here to brief about the decisions taken in the weekly Federal Cabinet meeting, he said, “The prime minister and cabinet members were concerned about the hike in food items’ prices.”

He said Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar briefed the cabinet on the economic indicators.

It was noted that the economic indicators were satisfactory as foreign exchange reserves were 20 billion dollars and the dollar to rupee exchange rate was stable, while the large scale manufacturing was significantly improving and the current account deficit was now in the positive territory as compared to $ 20 billion two years back.

The foreign direct investment was increasing due to the steps taken by the government to encourage business activity and jobs creation, while the foreign remittances were more than the set target.

The situation was now better from the time when the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government took charge with foreign reserves only enough to pay six weeks of import bill, Shibli Faraz said.

The minister said the wheat and sugar stocks were according to the requirements despite the fact that the Sindh government was not releasing its wheat stocks and the staple crop was damaged in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The cotton crop target, he said, would not be met this year due to the damages caused by rains and floods.

The minister said the briefing was also given on the performance of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), whose loans and liabilities stood at more than Rs 400 billion.

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Despite COVID-19, the PIA earned revenue of Rs 7.8 billion and the cabinet appreciated its performance, he added.

He said during the coronavirus pandemic, Pakistan’s economy performed better than other countries, whose economies were in far worse condition.

Shibli Faraz said the cabinet approved the security plan for the Chehlum of Imam Hussain (AS), which would be coordinated and implemented by the federal and provincial governments, armed forces and police.

He said the cabinet also discussed the prevailing political situation. The people, he said, knew the background in which the opposition had embarked on its current activities.

The opposition was using the language of enemy India, which wanted to include Pakistan in the black list of Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The opposition would hold public meetings only to save assets of few leaders, he remarked.

Shibli said Pakistan was a nuclear power, and had strong institutions and armed forces. The opposition was using different means to create chaos and economic instability in the country, he noted.

He said the foreign powers could easily manipulate Nawaz Sharif as he had assets abroad. On the other hand, Imran Khan had no business and did not have assets abroad so no pressure could be exerted on him by any international quarter, he added.

“We are not concerned about what the opposition is doing. We will continue to work for the benefit of the country.”
The minister said PM Imran Khan was steadfastly advancing the cause of Islam, Pakistan and Kashmir.

To a question about the registration of a first information report against the opposition leaders on sedition charges, he said it was a routine matter and the government or the prime minister had nothing to do with it. “We are not distributing the certificates of treason.”

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However, he said, the enemy and the opposition leaders were talking the same language.

The minister said the opposition had opposed the FATF linked legislation, which was against money laundering and committed by the former Punjab chief minister, but the present government got it passed from the Parliament in the larger national interest and to meet international obligations.

He said even if a person was prime minister for 3,000 times, he was not above the law and would be charged and convicted for committing crimes. Simple questions were asked from Nawaz Sharif as to how he had made the assets and sent the money abroad.

Imran Khan gave all the explanation about his assets and he was certified as honest by the court, he recalled.

Shibli Faraz said the previous rulers had looted the national wealth, and did not try to alleviate the poverty and resolve problems of the people.

The present government investigated the sugar crisis, which was created by powerful interest groups, he added.

To a question, he said the Federal Government wanted to develop the islands in the provinces and protect the coastal areas by bringing investment.

He assured that the government would continue to facilitate creation of new jobs as the economy thankfully kept on moving ahead despite the problems created by the COVID-19. In other countries, millions of people lost their jobs during the pandemic, he concluded.