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Govt to tighten its belt

While announcing that the government may enforce financial discipline, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said on Wednesday that it is not a favor to the public to make petrol cheaper, and noted that the government is losing Rs51 per liter on diesel.

Addressing a press conference after a cabinet meeting, Miftah Ismail said that Imran Khan gave subsidy on petrol and diesel to make things harder for Shehbaz government. “Making petrol cheap was not a favor because this subsidy is being given at taxpayer’s expense,” he said. The finance minister explained that the government is giving a subsidy of Rs52 on diesel and Rs21 on petrol, and due to this subsidy, Rs68 billion were paid from the national exchequer in terms of April’s subsidy.

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He said more than Rs200 crores were lost in SNGPL. “Khan sahib has laid landmines for us. It is not clear whether his government was incompetent or corrupt,” he remarked. The finance minister said that till date, all the governments together had taken a loan of Rs25,000 billion while the PTI government took loans of over Rs20,000 and did not spend a single penny on the country.

Miftah Ismail said that Imran Khan increased the rate of borrowing in dollars, the value of rupee fell to 68 rupees in his time. Exports have increased but there is also a price effect, he noted. “I also want to show you a letter. This letter proves the incompetence of the PTI government. Inflation in rural areas has gone up. Imran Khan’s poor policies have increased poverty,” he said. The finance minister said that he will have to go to the IMF, and hopefully the government will restore the IMF program.

Miftah said the government would make all-out efforts to restore the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) program with IMF.

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Speaking at ‘Meet the Press’ organized by National Press Club, the finance minister, who was accompanied by Federal Minister Information and Broadcasting Marriyuam Aurangzeb, said that the government would do whatever is necessary to restore the program. He said the government could reduce public sector development spending with other necessary budgetary discipline arrangements. “We will restore the program. If the government has to tighten its belt, it will do so,” he said, adding that no extra burden would be put on people.

The government would give a people-friendly and development-friendly budget despite all odds created by the PTI government, Miftah said while expressing hope that value of rupee would not slide further while the markets would also perform well.

Comparing the tenures of PTI and PMLN, Miftah said PMLN left food inflation of 2.3%, which has gone up to 10% this year, growth rate was 6.1%, which was reduced to 1.9% in the first year of PTI. He further said that the PMLN had left Consumer Price Index-based inflation on 3.9%, which went up to 12.7%.

The party left budget deficit at Rs1,600 billion on average, which during the current year, has risen to Rs5,600 billion. The rupee was devalued by 68 rupees, he said. Miftah said the tax collection has also reduced from 11 .1 percent of GDP to 9.1 percent.

“PMLN took $1 billion per year as loan while the PTI government took $9 billion per year,” Miftah said. He highlighted that rural inflation increased more than urban one. “The government would form a commission to investigate the smuggling of urea,” the finance minister said.

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