ISLAMABAD: The Federal Cabinet on Tuesday decided to postpone Rs7.99 per unit increase in the basic power tariff.
The Economic Coordination Committee had proposed the increase that was part of the cabinet meeting agenda for ratification, but it was dropped. The cabinet also approved issuance of Sukuk bonds to support the government’s budgetary position and promote Islamic banking industry in the country.
Addressing a press conference after the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal said the information regarding assets and other details about the Sukuk bonds would be available on the website of Finance Division soon.
Flanked by PM's Adviser on Kashmir Affairs Qamar Zaman Kaira, he said the cabinet also discussed the matter of shortage of edible oil in the country and acknowledged the efforts of minister for industries and his team for setting sail an edible oil ship from Indonesia for Pakistan.
He said the prime minister thanked the Indonesian president, and congratulated the industries minister, who went to Indonesia himself and talked to the Indonesian president in that regard.
As regards the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar briefed the cabinet that Pakistan had met all the requirements of the FATF and hoped that soon after the visit of FATF team to Pakistan, the country would be out of the grey list.
The cabinet observed that after coming out of the grey list, international trade and other restrictions would be completely eased out and Pakistan would be able to expand its trade across the world.
It was informed that in 2019, the army chief had formed a core cell, which had played a vital role in coordinating the institutional and ministerial efforts to complete the FATF’s action plans. The cabinet observed that while sitting in the opposition, the present coalition government parties also played a key role in the legislation process regarding the FATF matters.
The prime minister directed all his cabinet members to acknowledge and praise all the institutions concerned as it was not possible without collective efforts. As regards the urea fertilizer, the prime minister directed ensuring its supply to farmers on priority, and if there was any shortage, efforts should be expedited to import it from the friendly countries, especially China.
The PM observed that the world over, all the supply chains of commodities such as wheat, coal, and oil were badly disrupted due to the Ukraine-Russia war. He, however, expressed the resolve that government would take timely actions to avoid any disruption in the supply chains in Pakistan.
Ahsan Iqbal said on the recommendation of Commerce Ministry, the cabinet formed a committee to review the Trade Organization Act, 2013, which would be comprised of the commerce minister as its convener, and ministers for aviation, railways and industries as its members.
On the recommendation of the Health Ministry, the minister said the cabinet also approved reduction in the price of the Remdesivir injection, which is used for the COVID patients, from Rs2,308 to Rs1,892. He said the Health Ministry informed the meeting that it would come up with more recommendations to reduce the prices of more essential medicines.
The cabinet also reviewed the GSP Plus agreement that was signed in 2013 and under which Pakistan had got the facility for 10 years in exports to the European Union countries. The meeting was also briefed on the key elements of proposed new EU GSP (2024-2034). It was informed that all the ministers concerned were in contact with the EU authorities.
The cabinet expressed its satisfaction that almost all political parties had their representation in the current coalition government; therefore, meeting all the conditions required for the GSP Plus agreement would be easier.
The prime minister directed all the relevant ministries to ensure timely inking of the agreement for EUGSP (2024-34). The planning minister said the meeting also discussed the tough decisions being taken in the wake of ongoing economic situation in the country.
He said the PTI government had knowingly avoided to take tough decisions and put the economy on the verge of collapse. He said the current government was committed to reviving the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and attracting foreign investment that would help put the country on the path of progress and development.
Later, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in a special talk after the cabinet meeting, said the coalition government had taken difficult decisions and would have to take more tough measures to put economy back on the track.
The prime minister said the coalition government would overcome all the challenges by taking difficult decisions and the nation would see good days also. He reiterated that the coalition government would work hard day and night and leave the results to Allah Almighty.
“This is a difficult period but Insha Allah, we will bring the country out of crises,” he said. He said the incumbent government had to take difficult decisions because the last regime had violated its own agreement with the IMF.
The prime minister said the coalition government assumed power in difficult circumstances and would Insha Allah fulfill its commitments with sincerity. Shehbaz Sharif said that the government had to raise prices of petroleum products, adding it had also given a relief of Rs2,000 per month through the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) to 70 million people.
He said the government had taxed the rich more and hoped the elite would accept the decision happily and sacrifice to support the nation. Criticising the last government, he said it had reduced petroleum prices at the time of their departure with ill intentions
“If they have any concerns and feelings for the people, they should have left behind examples of provision of relief during their tenure so that one can say that they also worked hard for the masses,” he said.
The prime minister also paid rich tributes to Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and said the void created by her martyrdom would never be filled. On his Twitter handle, the prime minister, on her 69th birthday, said democracy without her was poorer.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said that the nation would hear good news from the IMF soon. He said inflation at international level behind hike in petroleum products prices not IMF.
Citing sources, Geo News reported the cabinet the government has decided to issue Sukuk bonds by mortgaging five state-owned properties, including Islamabad Express Highway, Islamabad Sports Complex, Makran Highway and all areas free from legal obstructions, the sources said.