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Finance minister says Kamyab Pakistan Program to be launched this month
Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin on Tuesday announced that the government would provide targetted cash subsidies on essential food items, including sugar, flour, and pulses.
Addressing a press conference alongside State Minister for Information Farrukh Habib and Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Food Security Jamshed Cheema, the finance minister said the subsidies will be provided to the poor segments of the society starting this month.
According to Radio Pakistan, the subsidy would cover up to 40 per cent of the country's population. Tarin said the government would also take measures to reduce the price of flour in the next few days and added that the government was already providing targeted subsidies to power and gas consumers, which now be expanded to essential commodities, including edible oil.
He said due to the Covid-19 pandemic, inflation was increasing across the world, including Pakistan. He, however, said the government was taking measures to reduce the impact of inflation on consumers.
The minister said the price of sugar rose to $430 per ton in the global market – a 48 per cent increase. In Pakistan, on the other hand, the price increased by 11 per cent only, the minister went on add.
According to Tarin, the price of palm also oil saw an increase of 50 per cent in the international market but the government increased its price by 35 per cent in the local market.
Similarly, the prices of crude oil and wheat were not increased in accordance with the price increase witnessed in international markets, Tarin claimed further.
Tarin said the government was also taking to measures to ensure a smooth supply of essential commodities, adding that the government is establishing strategic reserves of major commodities to ensure a smooth supply chain. He further said measures are also in the works to increase agricultural productivity.
These measures – commodity warehouses, cold storage and agri malls – will eliminate the role of the middle man and ensure the farmers get a fair price for their products. Tarin said the government will also take measures to regulate the prices of farm products.
The finance minister also announced that the government will launch the Kamyab Pakistan Program this month in order to enable the weak segments of society to earn livelihoods.
He revealed that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had raised objections to the program that resulted in a one-month delay.
Speaking about the current state of the economy, the minister said it is on the path to recovery and the results of the government’s growth strategy were visible as revenue collection had also increased. He said Pakistan will achieve 5 per cent growth during the current fiscal year that would help reduce its debt-to-GDP ratio.
Tarin maintained that the country witnessed an increase in the national debt due to the devaluation of the Pakistani Rupee as a result of the IMF deal.
He elaborated that at present, the debt stood at Rs39,900 billion. The total debt was Rs.25,290 billion in 2018, he said, adding that the debt-to-GDP ratio has been reduced from 85.7 per cent in 2020 to 81.1 per cent in 2021.
The minister further said state-owned enterprises (SOEs) needed reforms and a board was being established to run SOEs on professional lines, with the enterprises on the way to being privatised after reforms.
Speaking on the occasion, Jamshed Iqbal Cheema said prices of flour, sugar, ghee and pulses would be reduced by December and government would introduce a program later this month to ensure the provision of pure milk at an affordable price.
Cheema added the government was moving from non-promising crops to promising crops to meet the food demand of the country.
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