Pak PM Shehbaz Sharif says fuel price hike was necessary to avoid bankruptcy

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Pak PM said the move to raise fuel prices was necessary to save Pakistan from bankruptcy.

Islamabad:

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday said his government’s move to raise fuel prices was necessary to avoid bankruptcy of the country.

Pakistan hiked the price of petroleum products by 30 rupees per liter on Thursday. After the price increase, the price of petrol is now Rs.179.85, diesel Rs.174.15, kerosene Rs.155.95 and light diesel Rs.148.41.

In his first address to the nation after taking power last month, Shehbaz spoke mainly about the domestic problem facing the government.

His main focus was on the relief package for vulnerable groups after the government hiked oil prices to secure a relief package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The prime minister said the move to raise fuel prices was necessary to save Pakistan from bankruptcy.

Shehbaz said the decision to raise oil prices was tough. “It is with a heavy heart that we have raised oil prices; we have to make the decision in a difficult economic situation. This is due to the incredible rise in oil prices on the world market,” he said.

“The previous government had announced a subsidy that the treasury could not support. We made the decision by favoring the country in our own interest,” he said.

To mitigate the impact of the surge in oil prices, he announced an aid package of Rs 28 billion per month to provide around 14 million families with Rs 2,000 per month.

“These families number nearly 80 million people, which is a third of the country’s total population,” he said.

Shhebaz also blamed the previous government for the current oil hike as it committed to the IMF for the hike.

“They made a deal with the IMF, not us; They accepted their harsh terms, not us; They burden people with inflation, not us; They have pushed the country into an economic puddle, not us…” he said.

He also announced that he would launch consultations with all political parties to agree on an economic charter so that no government could change the country’s economic direction in the future.

Shehbaz justified the vote of no confidence in former Prime Minister Imran Khan by saying that the previous government had destroyed the country. “We changed a corrupt government at the request of the people,” he said.

Shehbaz came to power last month when he formed a coalition government after Khan was ousted by a vote of no confidence.

The new government faced enormous economic and political challenges, but it has started making difficult decisions and initiated the rise in oil prices to address these problems.

In his speech, Shehbaz briefly touched on the issue of relations with India.

“For a lasting peace in South Asia, it is India’s duty to reverse the August 5, 2019 measures in Kashmir so that we can make solid progress in resolving all issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, through peaceful means,” he said .

Tensions between India and Pakistan have increased since New Delhi overruled Article 370 of the constitution on August 5, 2019 to end Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. India’s decision provoked strong reactions from Pakistan, which belittled diplomatic relations and expelled the Indian envoy from the country.

India has categorically told the international community that the abolition of Article 370 is its internal matter. India has repeatedly told Pakistan that Jammu and Kashmir “was, is and will forever remain an integral part of the country”. It also advised Pakistan to accept reality and stop all anti-India propaganda.

India has also informed Pakistan that it wants normal neighborly relations with Islamabad in an environment free from terror, hostility and violence.

(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published by a syndicated feed.)

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