Lanka-like economic crisis ruled out

Ministers assure strategic oil reserves ‘at record level


Our Correspondent July 21, 2022

ISLAMABAD:

Import of petroleum products saw a gradual decline during the past three months and the country’s fuel reserves were at a “record level”, Power Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan and Minister of State for Petroleum Musadik Malik said on Thursday.

At a news conference, the two ministers appeared to assure the masses of the government’s commitment to stabilising the national economy, and emphasised that Pakistan would not meet the same fate a “regional country” – an apparent reference to Sri Lanka.

“Record reserves of petrol and diesel are available in the country. There is no threat of a shortage of petroleum products in the country,” Malik told reporters. “There has been a considerable reduction in the usage of petrol and diesel in June and July,” he added.

"This June, the country imported almost 9% less petroleum products with effective management as compared to the same month of the last year," he continued. “Similarly, there was an 8-9% decline in the sale of diesel used in heavy vehicles and agriculture machinery.”

Besides, the minister of state said, there was almost a 30% projected reduction in the consumption of petrol in July. Likewise, he added, there would a significant decline in the consumption of diesel was expected this month.

"This has significantly reduced the country's energy import," Malik added. He expressed the confidence that the fuel import would further decline in the coming days. Malik also revealed that the circular debt had been reduced by Rs214 billion over the last three months.

Power Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan said that the ministry was working on the pending issues in the power sector and a comprehensive solar policy would be announced next month with the aim to support a shift to solar energy and reduce dependence on imported fuel.

"Uninterrupted power supply is being ensured for the industrial sector so that there is no impact on the livelihoods of the people," the minister said. He assured that there would be no increase in power tariff for 100 units, along with a subsidy plan for those using up to 200 units.

The power minister endorsed the statement of Malik, saying that foreign exchange inflow and outflow position was stable and the country had the record highest stocks of petroleum products.

“Balance of payment will be improved in the coming days,” he said. “Out of a total of Rs2,467 billion circular debt, recorded on March 31, 2022, the current government has paid Rs214 billion during the last three months,” he added.

Malik said that at present, 34-day petrol reserves and 66-day diesel stocks were available to meet the country's energy needs. "We are creating a balance between import and maintaining reserves," he said.

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