Federal Finance Minister Shaukat Tareen has said that the prices will come down in a few days as the government will subsidise essential food items, including sugar, flour, and pulses.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Tuesday along with State Minister for Information Farrukh Habib and Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Food Security Jamshed Cheema, the finance minister said the subsidies would be provided to the poor segments of the society starting this month.
Shaukat said that the economy was stabilising and the inflation had slowed down. To increase people’s income, under the Ehsas programme, targeted subsidies on flour, sugar and other essentials will be given this month.
Shaukat Tarin said the subsidy would cover up to 40 per cent of the country’s population. The government would also take measures to reduce the price of flour in the next few days, he added.
He said that the government was already giving targeted subsidies to power and gas consumers, which now be expanded to essential commodities, including edible oil.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation was increasing across the world, including Pakistan. The government was taking measures to reduce the impact of inflation on consumers.
The minister said the price of sugar rose to $430 per ton in the global market – a 48 per cent increase. But, in Pakistan the price increased by 11 per cent only, he maintained.
According to Tarin, the price of palm also oil increased by 50 per cent in the international market but the government increased its price by 35 per cent.
Similarly, the prices of crude oil and wheat were not increased in accordance with the price increase in international markets, he continued.
Shaukat Tarin said the government was also taking measures to ensure a smooth supply of essential commodities, adding that the government is establishing strategic reserves of major commodities to ensure a smooth supply chain.
He said measures are also being made to increase agricultural productivity. These measures – commodity warehouses, cold storage and agri malls – will eliminate the role of the middle man and ensure the farmers get a fair price for their products, he added.
The minister said the government will also take steps to regulate the prices of farm products.
He announced that the government would launch Kamyab Pakistan Programme this month to enable the weak segments of society to earn decent livelihood.
He revealed that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had raised objections to the programe that resulted in a one-month delay.
The minister said that the economy is on the path to recovery and the results of the government’s growth strategy were visible as revenue collection had also increased.
He said Pakistan would achieve 5 percent growth during the current fiscal year that would help reduce its debt-to-GDP ratio.
He said that the country witnessed an increase in the national debt due to the devaluation of the rupee as a result of the IMF deal.
At present, the debt stood at Rs39,900 billion. The total debt was Rs25,290 billion in 2018, he said, adding that the debt-to-GDP ratio has been reduced from 85.7 per cent in 2020 to 81.1 per cent in 2021.
The minister said state-owned enterprises (SOEs) needed reforms and a board was being established to run them on professional lines, after that they would be privatised.
He said that ten top loss-making enterprises account for 89 percent of the aggregate losses and therefore attention was focused on these SoEs including PIA, Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Steel Mills, Discos and ZTBL.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Food Security Jamshed Cheema said prices of flour, sugar, ghee and pulses would be reduced by December and the government would introduce a programme later this month to ensure the provision of pure milk at an affordable price.
The government was moving from non-promising crops to promising crops to meet the food demand of the country.
INCOME TAX: Shaukat Tarin said he would discuss with Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to extend the deadline for filing income tax returns.
He said that the FBR’s system had been inoperative for the past 10 days.
The FBR has fixed September 30 deadline for filing the tax returns.