Adviser to the Prime Minister on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira said on Thursday that it was the need of the hour to change national habits to save energy and come out of the current power and gas crisis.
He said that people should adopt simplicity and austerity in their lives. Without the support of people the government could not survive so it is the major responsibility of all stakeholders to adopt simple ways in their life to cope with the current crisis, he added. Meanwhile, Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif on Thursday said the nation, especially the traders’ community, should adopt austerity measures as a cultural norm to reduce wastage of fuel and electricity amid soaring economic challenges.
The defence minister, in a joint press conference flanked by Minister of State for Petroleum Division Senator Musadik Masood Malik, Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira, and Minister for Communications and Postal Services Maulana Asad Mehmood, urged the nation to support the government for achieving normalcy through hard economic decisions.
Asif said the traders must accept the new timings of closure decided by the federal cabinet to reduce electricity consumption and fuel usage which would benefit the common masses. “We can control the price hike through internal measures, such as austerity. However, at the national level neither the previous governments nor the societal factions adopted austerity to control unnecessary expenses”, he added.
While commenting on general behaviour towards commodity usage, the minister said the public style of oil, water, gas and other consumptions fall under wastage. “We need a collective response and approach to address the prevailing economic issues. Rest assured that the government will play its role in protecting the masses and will take every possible step to ensure relief,” he underlined.
The minister beseeched the masses to adopt austerity as it was the only solution at the moment amid limited available resources. The families and individuals after decline in income adopt austerity and it should become part of our culture, the minister said, adding, “the least earning families are bearing the burden of economic crunch. It may not be felt in capital but is more conspicuous deep inside the country”.
He assured the media that under the leadership of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif the coalition government was taking the responsibility to reduce inflation and impacts of the economic issues. The defence minister pointed out that if Ukraine-Russia war ended then the fuel prices would nosedive and that would benefit our economy. “We have limited resources and are also a nuclear power which is the deterrence that helped us survive all crises”. While lambasting the fuel hoarders, Asif said the profiteers who exploit economic crisis and problems of the poor started stockpiling amid decision of fuel price hike. “The tanker and petrol pump mafia don’t resist squeezing the poor masses and make them bare naked through their unbridled amassing of fuel,” he said. He queried, “Are these people sympathetic with the nation? No, they are not. They must not exploit public in distress.”
He said the political capital would recover but the national reserves and poor people’s problems, leaving them empty handed, might not recover. “We are fully aware of the problems faced by people and are hopeful that this crisis will reverse in the future.” While highlighting the ills of PTI government’s agreements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Petroleum Minister Senator Musadik Malik told the media that the previous government laid land mines through subsides on fuel and left the country in a bad economic situation.
The decision of PTI government to limit fuel prices till June had a certain condition mentioned in the agreement which the nation should read on the website of IMF, he said. “Imran Khan had decided that there will be no increase in fuel prices further which had no ratification in any official document and was only a political proclamation”. If we had delayed price increase for a month than it might cost Rs 100 to 120 billion a month to the national exchequer. “The total defence budget is Rs1,536 billion whereas this fuel subsidy cost is between Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,500 billion which has been announced by the ousted prime minister Imran Khan”.