Minister defends petrol price hike, rupee depreciation (Business)

LAHORE: Federal Minister for Commerce, Industries and Production Mian Misbahur Rehman has defended the increase in petroleum product prices and massive rupee depreciation, saying the steps taken by the interim government will actually facilitate the upcoming elected government.

“We were facing global pressure to let the rupee weaken coupled with an increase in global crude oil prices, so we had to take action,” emphasised Rehman while visiting the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Saturday.

“We had two options – whether to pass on the impact of global oil price hike to consumers or not. We chose to increase the petroleum prices as it was necessary.” Had the interim government kept petroleum product prices at previous levels, the upcoming government would have been left with no option but to raise prices immediately after coming to power, he said while explaining the reason behind the rate hike.

Similarly, he emphasised, it would not be correct to blame the interim government squarely for the rupee depreciation. “It should have been done gradually over the past five years, but now the nation is facing the drop in the rupee’s value. Nevertheless, we take  responsibility,” he said.

The minister acknowledged that economic condition of Pakistan was not that good, but voiced hope that the new government would be able to tackle the challenges.

He agreed that energy tariffs should be uniform throughout the country and the matter had been taken up with the prime minister, who gave his consent in that regard.

“I have discussed the issues of costly imported gas and different utility tariffs with the premier and he has agreed that utility prices should be uniform,” said Rehman, who was also a leader of the business community and was aware of trade and economic challenges.

He was of the view that low-cost energy would bring down the cost of production, adding there were a number of federal and provincial departments that were working to finalise reforms in consultation with the private sector.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2018.

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