Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin has stated that the government has decided to reduce the prices of edible oil, sugar, and wheat to facilitate people.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, he said the government decided to provide tax relief on edible oil to bring down the prices of cooking oil and ghee to Rs. 40-50 per kilogram. “After providing the tax relief, we will ensure a reduction in the prices of cooking oil and ghee by Rs. 40 to Rs. 50 per kg,” he said. He added that the sugar would be available at Rs. 89.75 per kg, whereas the per kilogram price of flour would become Rs. 55.
Tarin said COVID-19 impacted the world’s supply chain, and worldwide production declined. He explained that COVID-19 also created the problem of logistics alongside a decline in production, and as result, the prices of commodities globally witnessed an increase. He maintained that the Government of Pakistan would provide a cash subsidy to “the poorest of the poor” to buy essential food items including sugar, flour, pulses, and ghee.
The Finance Minister noted that inflation came down during the last two years in both urban and rural areas from 15 and 17.8 percent to 10 and 9.1 percent respectively.
He said the overall prices of essential food commodities increased across the world, as the price of sugar went up from $240 per ton in 2018 to $430 per ton, showing a growth of 80 percent. He said the government would provide tax relief on cooking oil, reducing its price by Rs. 40 to Rs. 50 per kg. The government will pay out of pocket, he stated.
The Finance Minister further said that wheat cost the government Rs. 2040 per 40 kg, yet the government was providing it at Rs. 1950 to the flour mills. Talking about the increase in petrol prices, he said the government was providing the petrol at Rs. 123 per liter. “I would like to clarify that petrol in India is sold at Rs. 250 per liter and we are providing cheap petrol, as compared to all the regional countries,” he revealed. He informed the media that there was a target of 600 billion petroleum levy in the budget, of which not a single rupee had been collected.
Tarin said, “administratively, we have started looking for middlemen and are taking action against those who are making a profit of 300 to 400 percent. The government will make scientific engineering processes to analyze profits in the supply chain and squeeze the role of middleman administratively.”
The government was also building strategic reserves of pulses and onions to help streamline prices, he said, adding that the Competition Commission of Pakistan was also directed to take measures against cartelization of ghee manufacturers. In the medium and long terms, he said, the government will build commodity warehouses and cold-storages so that the farmers and purchasers get directly linked.
He said the government was working on initiatives to enhance the income and affordability of people, adding that for bringing up the lower segments of people, the Kamyab Pakistan program would be launched by the end of this month.
To a query, he said Pakistan was still in the IMF [International Monetary Fund] program. He added that during an upcoming meeting with IMF, Pakistan would negotiate in light of its existing stance. He said the country’s revenues were increasing, whereas there had also been improvements in the power sector which would be helpful in negotiations with IMF.
To another question, Tarin said, “we are monitoring the fiscal side and the government has decided to impose 100 percent duty on non-essential items, besides also levying Regulatory duty on selected items in order to curtail the current account deficit.”
When asked about his ‘Senatorship’, he said, “I am not going anywhere. I believe in Prime Minister Imran Khan, and I will be a Senator soon.”