PM Khan cuts petrol, diesel prices by Rs10 and electricity by Rs5

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing the Nation, here Monday. - PID photo

ISLAMABAD: At a time when crude oil prices are setting new highs, Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced to slash prices of petroleum products and electricity to provide relief to the poverty-stricken people.
In his 40-minute address to the nation on Monday, the prime minister said that prices of petrol and diesel will be reduced by Rs10 per litre and electricity by Rs5 per unit. “We are anticipating that oil prices will not go down amid the Ukraine crisis… so instead of increasing their prices we have decided to slash petrol and diesel by Rs10 per litre,” he said.
He said the government is working on building 10 dams that would help save Pakistan from global price fluctuation as power would be generated through the hydel system in future.
He said the government has also decided to increase the Ehsaas programme’s cash handouts from Rs12,000 to Rs14,000 and added that jobless graduates would be awarded internships and a stipend of Rs30,000. Moreover, 26,000 scholarships – costing Rs38 billion – will be given to students, he said.
The premier announced a complete tax exemption for the IT sector – companies and freelancers – adding that no foreign exchange restriction will be imposed on them. Moreover, IT startups will no longer have to pay capital gains tax.
Talking about industries, the PM said the people seeking to install industries or invest in the country would not be “asked any questions,” and a package would be announced later. He also said overseas Pakistanis eyeing to invest in local industries will be given a five-year tax exemption.
He said his recent visit to Russia was aimed at strengthening economic ties. He also briefly touched on his visit to China where attended the Beijing Olympics, saying the result of the visit will be visible with the start of the CPEC second phase. He further said his recent visits to China and Russia will have a far-reaching impact on the country’s economy.
The prime minister said, “We are going to import two million tonnes of wheat from Russia as well as striking a gas agreement, while we have better understanding on the second phase of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.”
The prime minister said that he believes in an independent policy in the best interest of the people of Pakistan. “I always wanted Pakistan to pursue an independent foreign policy that should be in the country’s interest,” the PM said. He urged the people to not vote for a party whose leader is involved in corruption as such a party cannot pursue an independent foreign policy.
He said when Pakistan joined the US war on terror during former military ruler Pervez Musharraf era, the country paid heavy price in terms of economic and human losses. “I always opposed that Pakistan had nothing to do with the US war in Afghanistan.”
He while referring to the PPP and the PML-N governments said: “Both the democratic governments remained tight-lipped when the US was carrying drone strikes in Pakistan… even [former president] Zardari told one US official that ‘we did not care about collateral damage’.” As many as 80,000 Pakistanis were martyred, 3.5 million people were displaced, and the country suffered losses worth $150 billion, he added.
The prime minister said the incumbent government was praised by the World Bank (WB), World Economic Forum (WEF), and the World Health Organisation (WHO). “If our government was so inept – as dubbed by the Opposition – then why would world institutions praise us. Even Bill Gates, when he came to Pakistan, also applauded the government,” he said.
He said the WB had termed Ehsaas Programme among the top four programmes across the globe that worked for providing relief to the people. The prime minister said Pakistan recorded a historic tax recovery during the previous fiscal year, which was also a 31% increase in the tax collection.
“During the pandemic, no other country could have imagined breaking tax collection targets like we did, as we recovered more than 6,000 billion worth of taxes.”
Moving towards the Prevention of Electronic Crimes (PECA) law, the prime minister said it was enacted in 2016, and the incumbent government has only made amendments to it. “A head of state who has not been involved in any type of corruption is not scared of the media,” the prime minister said, turning down notions that the government is attempting to muzzle the media.
He said some journalists resorted to mudslinging when it came to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital, accusing that the funds raised by the hospital were used to fund the PTI. “There are journalists who accept bribes and publish filth [against the government],” he stressed, claiming that the type of news stories published in Pakistani media cannot be “reported in any other democracy of the world”.
Good journalism is an asset for society and only criticism helps governments improve, but resorting to mudslinging and saying filthy things about women should be stopped, he added.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Special Technology Zones (STZs) are being established in major cities to facilitate IT professionals.
Chairing the 4th meeting of the board of governors of the Special Technology Zones Authority on Monday, the prime minister added that a compliance regime has been introduced in place of the NOC regime for this purpose.
He said that facilitating the IT sector to create huge employment opportunities for tech-savvy youth in the country is the top priority of the government. The prime minister highlighted that youth constitutes around 68 percent of our population, and the IT sector has full potential to engage them productively for socio-economic uplift.
Earlier, the board of governors approved to declare various technology and innovation clusters in Islamabad as Special Technology Zones to create an enabling environment for the IT sector to utilize existing infrastructure for the growth of tech startups and freelancers.
The prime minister directed the authorities concerned to take all possible measures for the creation of a tech friendly ecosystem in the country. These measures include tax holiday for the registered tech startups and freelancers, launch of Pakistan Technology Startup Fund, and attracting local and foreign Venture Capital funding in startups.
The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary, Energy Minister Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Industries Minister Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Special Assistant to PM on Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar, SAPM on Political Communication Dr Shehbaz Gill, Chairman STZA Amir Hashmi, Chairman CDA Amir Ali Ahmed and other senior officers concerned. – TLTP