Prime Minister Imran Khan said that Covid-19 lockdowns have adversely impacted commodity prices in most countries across the globe resulting in price hikes.

The statement was issued by the premier following criticism on rising inflation and record-high fuel prices in the country.

PM Khan took to Twitter on Sunday, saying that although there has been an unprecedented rise in commodity prices in international markets due to COVID-19 lockdowns, Pakistan MashaAllah has done much better in relative terms.

Khan further shared a video link in which an analyst is using data to draw the conclusion that Pakistan’s economy is improving and the country is performing better in the existing conditions in comparison to other regional countries.

The spokesperson of the finance minister, Muzzamil Aslam, is seen claiming in the video that those criticizing the crumbling economy have no concrete evidence to support their arguments. He added that although the prices of basic essentials are seeing an unprecedented hike, it is only because of the increasing prices globally.

The spokesperson said that economic indicators are indicating an upward trend. Aslam added that the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) issued a report that shows there was 3.9 percent increase in food inflation during Sept-Oct.

He noted that the World Cereal Index rose by 3.2 percent and that edible oil prices saw a 9.6 percent surge in October. There is a 2.6 percent surge in the prices of dairy products during October as per the report according to the spokesperson.

Khan’s statement comes following the hike in the prices of petroleum products and basic necessities announced by the government.

Opposition demands reversal of price hike

The move garnered criticism from the public as well as the opposition, demanding the government to withdraw the hike in prices.

Opposition Leader and President of PML-N Shahbaz Sharif issued a statement saying that ever since the present government has come to power, it has dragged the entire population to “the ration card”.

He added that during the past three years, the price of edible oil has risen by more than 130%.

Prices of petroleum products surge again

Shahbaz Sharif continued, “Increasing the prices of petrol and diesel by Rs8 per litre will also have a direct effect on prices of other items. It has become difficult for the common man to live”.

He added that these problems will ease only if Imran Khan “goes home instead of wreaking further havoc”, adding that problems such as inflation, unemployment, and “economic destruction” cannot be addressed by simply hurling allegations of corruption.

Along similar lines, PPP parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman lambasted the prime minister’s decision of raising the oil prices. She said that the PM has been unsuccessful in providing relief to the people. Rehman added, “The prime minister is not giving relief but, in fact, he is asking for it”.

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She criticized that everything has become more expensive following the hike in petroleum prices as the weekly inflation index has shot up to 14.31 percent.

The PPP information secretary Shazia Marri cautioned that if the government did not reverse the hike in prices, such a response will come that the “government will not be able to survive”.

She called on the people to prepare as her party would announce plans for a protest soon. She said, “The time for accountability has arrived”.

Petroleum price hike

The government announced another hike in the prices of petroleum products early on Friday morning. The revised price of petrol was fixed at Rs145.82 per litre, after an increase of Rs8.03. The price of high-speed diesel was raised to Rs142.62 per litre, after an increase of Rs8.14.

The price of kerosene was raised by Rs6.27, taking the rate to Rs116.53, while light diesel oil is now available at Rs114.07 following an upward revision of Rs5.72.

Earlier on November 1, PM Khan had rejected the proposals presented by the finance ministry and OGRA, and had made the decision to maintain the prices. However, while making his ‘relief package’ address, PM Imran said that an increase in prices of petroleum products was in the offing because the government could no longer take a hit on its revenue.

He said, “I understand that inflation is a serious issue, but I want the media to put a balanced narrative. Is my government responsible for global inflation? In the past 3-4 months, oil prices have increased 100% globally but the increase in Pakistan is only 33%. I want to tell you that we will have to increase the oil prices in our country, otherwise, our deficit will grow.”


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