Former finance minister Miftah Ismail engaged in a Twitter spat with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader and his predecessor Shaukat Tarin on Sunday where he critcised the previous government for its “unforgivable” petroleum subsidies, but also admitted that the PML-N led government's decision to lower petroleum products' prices was “reckless”.
Tarin had taken the government to task in a tweet saying: “We were blamed for violating IMF conditions. According to Miftah sahib, they did not wait to get clearance from MD IMF before announcing the fuel prices. Clear doublespeak".
However, only a few hours later, Miftah hit back saying, “Shaukat bhai [brother] but you did violate the agreement you made with the IMF. You agreed to increase Sales Tax to 17% but reduced it to zero. You agreed to raise Petrol Levy every month by Rs4 to Rs30 but brought it to zero. You agreed to not give amnesty but gave one anyway”.
1. Shaukat bhai but you did violate the agreement you made with the IMF. You agreed to increase Sales Tax to 17% but reduced it to zero. You agreed to raise Petrol Levy every month by Rs 4 to Rs 30 but brought it to zero. You agreed to not give amnesty but gave one anyway. https://t.co/UfEe4JJfcS— Miftah Ismail (@MiftahIsmail) October 2, 2022
The PML-N leader called Tarin out for his government’s “unfounded and unsustainable subsidy on petrol”.
Earlier, the Ministry of Finance had decided in principle to reduce the price of petroleum products after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed to freeze the tax imposed on petrol for three months.
According to the agreement with the IMF, levy on petrol is to be increased to Rs50 per litre by January 2023.
It should be noted that the levy on petrol previously was around Rs37.42 per litre while on high speed diesel (HSD) around Rs7.35 per litre. Besides, levy on kerosene and light diesel oil (LDO) is Rs10 per litre.
2. You gave an unfounded, unsustainable subsidy on petrol. PTI nearly bankrupted us but when I took over and went to the IMF we saved Pakistan from default. Not increasing PDL this month without IMF approval is reckless, but what PTI did with our economy was unforgivable— Miftah Ismail (@MiftahIsmail) October 2, 2022
Miftah also did not shy away from claiming that the PTI had “nearly bankrupted” the country and that he “went to the IMF” and “saved Pakistan from default” when he took over.
Read more Dar favours currency market intervention
Miftah admitted that the current government’s decision not to increase petroleum development levy (PDL) in October without prior approval from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was irresponsible. However, he nonetheless held that the ousted PTI government’s decisions on the matter had been far worse.
The disagreements within the PML-N had been apparent since the former finance minister, who had been facing severe criticism for repeatedly jacking up petroleum prices and delays in the revival of the IMF programme, among other things, himself had admitted that he had ample support from party stalwarts but there are others who had been criticising and opposing him.
Miftah ultimately stepped down from his post as senior PML-N leader Ishaq Dar took over as the country's new finance czar.
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