ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly witnessed the opposition protest again on Friday, this time against the recent price hike for petroleum products, while the government insisted that prices were below international market rates .
The Treasury advisers again gave the opposition the opportunity to suspend the session due to low turnout and the session could not continue even for an hour due to the fact that the opposition has signaled the quorum.
The opposition also staged a protest outside Parliament for what they called the dropping of gasoline bombs on the population.
At roughly the same location, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin told a press conference that Prime Minister Imran Khan wanted to provide relief to those affected by inflation.
Government insists prices are below international market rates
The house has expressed its dissatisfaction with the “poor performance” of Pakistani athletes at the Tokyo Olympics.
The NA session, chaired by Vice President Qasim Suri, was unable to complete Question Time as the opposition complained that the government had not responded to questions put to the House.
“The same questions have been repeated since the last session, but the government has not given answers in recent weeks,” said Khawaja Asif, leader of the Pakistani Muslim League-Nawaz. He called on the Vice-President to take severe action against members who did not attend meetings regularly.
“It is the height of the lack of seriousness on the part of the members of the Treasury that questions are not answered even at Question Time,” he said.
Rejecting the rise in oil prices, the MP said the government had again “dropped a gasoline bomb” on the people. âFor the love of God, be merciful to the people,â he added.
The government announced on Thursday an increase in petroleum product prices from Rs4 to Rs8 and now a liter of gasoline sells for Rs127.3.
After Mr Asif’s speech, members of the opposition, especially those of the PML-N, began to slogans against the government and the prime minister. The women members held signs with anti-government slogans in their hands.
Opposition protesters surrounded the president’s dais and shouted slogans “Go Niazi go”, “Petrol bomb na manzoor” and so on.
Opposition MPs have called on the government to withdraw the oil price hike.
Mr Asif said the opposition was not allowed to speak on the issue of oil prices in the house. âWhere should we go if we are not allowed to talk about important national issues in the house,â he asked.
The opposition later organized a walkout.
Shazia Marri of the Pakistan Peoples Party and a few other members signaled a quorum and the session was adjourned.
Tarin’s media discourse
Later, Finance Minister Tarin spoke to the media in front of Parliament and said the government was absorbing the impact of the decade’s highest international price hike to come to the aid of the people through various measures, including direct food subsidies to the poor.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic had triggered a rise in prices around the world, but the government had failed to pass all of that impact on to people.
Speaking about the rise in oil prices, the minister said that Pakistan ranks 17th among the countries providing the raw material at the lowest prices, adding that the majority of the other 16 countries with the lowest prices than Pakistan were oil-producing countries.
“Gasoline prices in the country are even lower than in countries in the region as it is sold at Rs 127 per liter in Pakistan while its price in India is Rs 235 per liter and in Bangladesh at Rs 195 per liter, “he added.
He said the government wanted to reduce prices because it had already reduced the petroleum development tax from Rs 30 per liter in 2018 to just Rs 2.5 per liter. “This was despite the fact that the government had set a target of 600 billion rupees for the oil tax in the budget.”
“The country’s economy is growing as revenues have increased by over 38% and exceeded the target of 186 billion rupees,” the minister added.
He said the Kamyab Pakistan program would soon be launched whereby farmers would receive an interest-free loan of Rs 150,000 per crop and Rs 200,000 interest-free for mechanization, while urban households would receive Rs 500,000. per family to start a business. . âWe don’t want to give you (people) a fish but we want to teach you how to fish it,â he added.
The government, he said, was also giving loans of up to 2 million rupees at 2% interest for building houses as health cards were issued to allow people to get treatment. health.
Mr Tarin said the prime minister was concerned for the well-being of the common man.
On debts, the minister said the debt-to-GDP ratio fell by 4% last year, expecting it to decline further in the current year.
To a question, the minister said the government would sincerely negotiate with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He said the government had pledged to collect RS 5.8 trillion in revenue and that collection figures to date indicated he would exceed the target.
He said there were some challenges in the electricity sector, but increasing tariffs, as advised by the IMF, was not a solution. “So we would like the IMF to give us space in this regard,” he added.
Posted in Dawn, le 2 October 2021