ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said that the government replaced former finance minister Hafeez Sheikh with Shaukat Tareen to control inflation and boost growth rate.

The premier was responding to a question posed by a caller during the PM’s televised question-answer session.

Responding to a query on inflation, Imran said hike in the prices of basic commodities “bothered him the most”. The PM said prices of electricity has direct impact on the inflation, adding that the previous government of PML-N signed “expensive agreements, putting a huge burden of capacity payments”.

He said these payments were estimated Rs180 billion in 2013; they swelled to Rs484 billion in 2018 and now this amount is standing at Rs900 billion.

He said under the international agreements, the government is bound to procure electricity even if it does not require so. He said the PTI government convinced the Independent Power Producers and managed to reduce the amount of capacity payment to the tune of Rs132 billion. Similarly, the government imported LNG from Qatar at cheaper rates, saving $300 million annually, he added.

On the economic front, the PM said the government inherited a difficult economic situation with record deficits. He, however, said the present government has laid the foundation for the prosperity of the country. He said the foreign exchange reserves have reached $15.6 billion. There is a growth of 7.5 per cent in the large-scale manufacturing sector, with the textile industry operating at its full capacity. He said there has been increase in revenue collection and the exports.

He went on to list the economic achievements of the ruling PTI. The exports recorded a growth of 13.5 per cent, while the cement sector also reported record sales this year, said the prime minister. He said tractors’ sales increased by 58 per cent; sugar cane grew by 22pc. The world economy is shrinking but we saved our people from corona and saved the economy, he said, adding the current account is in surplus for 10 months and the PKR appreciated against the US dollar.

The PM said Rs1,100 billion went to the farmers this year due to the government’s pro-agriculture policy.  He said the government will soon announce a long-term plan for the agriculture sector.

Discussing the COVID-19 situation, the PM once again appealed to the people to strictly follow the SOPs to contain the spread of the pandemic.

He was confident that Pakistan will come out of the third wave of COVID-19 if the people observed the SOPs during the Eid holidays. He said the government is also holding discussions for domestic manufacturing of vaccines and the nation will soon hear good news in this regard. 

Responding to a query of a caller, the PM categorically stated that Pakistan will not hold talks with India until it rescinds the illegal steps of August 5, 2019.

He said international media is now also writing against Hindutva policy of Modi government after the present government raised it effectively at the international level. He voiced his concerns over the maltreatment of Muslims and other minorities in India. He said our foreign office has raised Jammu and Kashmir dispute in an excellent manner.

The PM said border markets are being opened with Iran and Afghanistan saying this will provide legal trade opportunities to the local population.


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