Miftah Ismail said the declining trend in international food and fuel prices would help bring down commodity rates in Pakistan

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Miftah Ismail on Thursday said the declining trend in international food and fuel prices would help bring down commodity rates in Pakistan.

Addressing a press conference here, the minister said per barrel crude oil price had come down to $100 from $123 while those of edible oil and ghee declined from $1,700 to $1,000 per ton.

The government, he added, would pass on the benefit of decreasing international fuel prices to the people at an appropriate time, while the prices of edible oil are also expected to come down by Rs100 to Rs150 per kg to make the commodity available at Rs350 to Rs370 per kilogram.

The minister said the government was already providing flour and sugar at Rs40 and Rs70 per kg respectively through the Utility Stores Corporation. The flour prices would further come down keeping in view the downward trend in wheat prices internationally.

Miftah said the economy was under control as the incumbent government has saved it from collapse despite the huge damage inflicted by the previous regime. Currently, most of the economic indicators are stable.

He said the government presented a balanced budget, wherein the rich were made to sacrifice and the poor provided initiatives. The budget measures are expected to lead to progress and growth.

The minister said the previous government had left the highest trade and current account deficits accompanied by low foreign exchange reserves. However, with $2.4 billion provided by China, the foreign exchange reserves position had improved, which would further enhance once the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is finalised.

Things are getting better, he remarked.

Talking about the energy issues, he said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government did not complete the power projects that were initiated by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and consequently the people had to face loadshedding. The Karot Power Project, which should have been started in the beginning of the year, has been initiated now while the Haveli Bahadur Power Plant-II, for which machinery was put in place in 2018, should have been run in 2019, but it was being run now by the incumbent government.

He refuted the claims of excessive generation capacity, saying there was around 7,500 megawatt shortfall, including 5,000 megawatt due to gas and fuel shortage and 2,500 megawatt due to lack of plants’ maintenance. He said the incumbent government could not get any response for its tender for LNG (liquefied natural gas). It could have been done by the previous regime when the prices were low.

He said the present government is generating 5,000 megawatts more electricity than the previous regime, while agreements are being made to import coal from Afghanistan, South Africa, Indonesia and Australia. The government is also finalising agreements to import gas and LNG, he added.

Miftah said one more nuclear plant, having capacity of 1,100 megawatts, is being inaugurated in Karachi, which would help provide relief in loadshedding. The prime minister has also initiated work on the solar energy policy to produce alternative energy. The minister said the Punjab government was giving subsidy on its own to provide free electricity to the poor consuming less than 100 units per month.