Govt to import sugar to stabilise price, Senate told

Hafeez Shaikh says PTI govt can't be blamed for spike in foreign debt, 'as it is also repaying loans obtained by previous govts'

ISLAMABAD: The Upper House of the Parliament was informed on Monday that the government is taking concrete measures to bring down prices of sugar and wheat in the country.

Speaking at the floor of the House, Minister for Industries & Production Hammad Azhar said that more sugar will be imported to the country to ensure its smooth and cheap supply. “In this regard, permission will be sought from the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the federal cabinet to import 5,000 tonnes more sugar.”

The minister said to ensure adequate supply of flour, the Punjab government timely enhanced the release of wheat to flour mills; however, at the same time, the Sindh government limited the release which resulted in price hike in the province.

He said for the first time in history, sugarcane farmers were being paid the real price of their crop due to the support price announced by the PTI government.

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The minister maintained that petroleum prices in Pakistan were lower as compared to those in the neighbouring countries.

Meanwhile, Finance and Revenue Minister Hafeez Sheikh stated that the government was striving to reduce foreign debt, as it was a big burden on the country’s economy. Taking the floor, he said blaming the government for the current debt spike was unfair “because it also has to pay loans obtained by the previous governments”.

He reiterated that the incumbent government inherited a very precarious economic situation in 2018 and therefore had to introduce strict financial discipline to curtail excessive government expenditure, increase revenue collection, introduce market driven exchange rate, remove large tax exemptions and discourage imports.

“During initial days of the PTI government, our first priority was to save the country from the impending default. Resultantly, the government took result-oriented decisions and signed a landmark agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF),” he added.

Shaikh maintained that the government refrained from borrowing even a single penny from the State Bank of Pakistan during the last one and half year, while no supplementary grants were provided.

He outlined that since the spread of Covid-19, the government has taken several initiatives to facilitate agriculture and construction sectors to accelerate economic recovery. “Due to primary surplus, we don’t need loans if we don’t have to repay previous loans.”

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