PM unveils Rs28bn relief package

Shehbaz defends knocking on IMF door to prevent the country from going bankrupt

Our Correspondent May 27, 2022
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. SCREENGRAB


In a bid to cushion the impact of his government’s decision to withdraw subsidies on fuel, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced on Friday a new relief package of Rs28 billion per month to “protect the poor from the impact of inflation”.

In his maiden address to the nation a day after his government caved in and fulfilled IMF’s condition, the prime minister defended the move as a “necessary measure to prevent the country from going bankrupt” and blamed the previous government for “destroying the country’s economy”.

Under the relief package, Shehbaz said that the poor families across the country would be paid Rs2,000 each, while stipends would be given to the deserving families through the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), adding that the utility stores had been directed to sell 10kg flour bag at Rs400.

“We increased the prices of petroleum products with a heavy heart. We sacrificed political interests and preferred the national interest to pull the economy out of the current crisis,” he said. “We will take every decision and do everything possible to advance the journey of national development.”

He charged the former Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) with destroying the national economy, saying that the Imran Khan-led government accepted the tough IMF conditions, which made people’s lives miserable. “The previous government provided subsidies on fuel for political gains,” he added.

“We are not responsible for the agreement with the IMF on tough terms, pushing the country into the darkness of economic quagmire and load shedding, burying the country under the worst debt burden in its history and stifling the economy, but the previous government is,” the prime minister said.

“We are launching a new relief package worth Rs28 billion per month to save the poor people from the burden of rising petrol and diesel prices,” the prime minister told the nation. He said that 14 million poor families, comprising 85 million people, would be given Rs2000 per family.

“This is in addition to the monetary assistance being provided to them under the Benazir Income Support Programme. This relief package will be made part of the next budget," he said. Furthermore, he added that he had directed the utility stores to set the price of a 10kg sack of flour at Rs400.

He stressed that former prime minister Imran Khan was removed from power on public demand and through democratic means. “The people of Pakistan wanted to get rid of the [previous] incompetent and corrupt rulers that is why we accepted the challenge,” he continued.

“Now, Pakistan will be run according to the Constitution and not at the whim of an individual. We will protect the lives and properties of the people at all costs,” he said, adding that the government had initiated consultations with all political parties to agree on a charter of the economy.

Recalling the tenure of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), from 2013 to 2018, the prime minister emphasised that his party built several development projects and ended load-shedding in the country.

The premier berated the previous government for leaving behind "innumerable stories of corruption", adding that with their [PTI leaders] behaviour of victimization, anger and incivility, they have torn apart the social fabric and cultivated “a crop of hate”.

He said the former prime minister for the sake of his nefarious political designs, came up with the story of a false foreign letter.

However, the National Security Committee categorically stated twice that there was no conspiracy behind the ousting of the former prime minister and Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States also rejected the story of conspiracy, he explained.

Also read: Govt caves in to IMF, drops petrol bomb

“But the person was telling lies for his heinous political aims and was damaging Pakistan’s vital national interests.”

He said if any person thought his arrogance was above the constitution and national institutions he was wrong.

“Pakistan will move forward according to the constitution and not according to the arrogance of a person.”

He recalled that during the period of Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan was making distinctive progress but then Imran Khan staged the drama of sit-ins at a time when the Chinese President Xi Jinping was about to undertake a visit to Pakistan to sign the historic agreement of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).




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